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FAQs on Goldfish Environmental Disease 4
(ex: issues of poor water quality, overcrowding, unfavorable tank/water conditions, temperature, etc.)

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

Related Goldfish Disease FAQs: Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3, Environmental 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 Feeding, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Goldfish Breeding/Reproduction,


New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Re: Attn Neale... GF... hlth... env. 11/24/10
Hi Neale,
I'm a bit perplexed about something, maybe you can help. I have 29 gallon tank 2 filters . One for 50 gal and 0ne for 30 gallon tank. I lost my main fish Sparticus while back. I have another Cleo that was him mate and he is still in the tank and doing pretty well. My readings are good 0 ammonia ph 7.2 I'm adding new fish and they don't seem to make it. The last died and this one looked good when I put him in but now getting top fin tears at the edges And some fray on tail. Its a black moor. small. They are both small
fish. Why is the new one always affected and the other doing fine?
<Very difficult to say, but the most common reason for this sort of thing is how fish adapt to their environment. The older fish has adapted to the conditions in your aquarium. This can happen even if the conditions in your aquarium aren't 100% perfect. In particular, fish adapted to pH and hardness levels different to those they might have experienced at the aquarium shop. When you buy a new fish, you expose it to different water chemistry and water quality to what it was used to. So the new fish gets
stressed, and eventually sickens. It's absolutely crucial to review not just pH and ammonia, but also general hardness and nitrite levels. Make sure these are in the comfort zone for Goldfish, i.e., 10+ degrees dH general hardness, and nitrite level = 0. You can tell me everything is fine, but if you keep losing fish, then something isn't fine, and it's up to you to establish what.>
I add a bit of stress coat every day. Not sure what to do. I'm hearing a lot of gulping from Cleo at the surface. Not sure if he's looking for food or air. They are swimming around great and eating fine. Concerned about the small tears on the Moor. I feed 2 round Hikari Oranda Gold mini pellet each twice a day. Temp in tank reads safe zone
What else can I do?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Attn Neale
Hi Neale.
I'm not sure how to check general hardness and nitrate. Can I get a kit at the store for that to test?
Not familiar with this.
I have Chemi pure elite in the filters which should help nitrates.
<Wouldn't waste my time thinking this way. Nitrate is removed by water changes.>
Maybe I can call the petstore and see what it used to ???? What do I ask them ?
<Ensure your water chemistry is steady, and as stated several times already, within the comfort zone for Goldfish -- pH 7-8; 10+ degrees dH general hardness; 0 ammonia; 0 nitrite; 0-50 mg/l nitrate. Do that, and you should be fine. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Attn Neale........
Hi Neale. I'm also trying something new with water. Instead of taking from tap. I'm leaving it sit out in extra tank so chlorine can evaporate. I will be doing water change with that water. I heard this was good.
<Can be, but isn't enough by itself. Make sure to add a good water condition to each batch of water to remove chlorine, Chloramine, ammonia and copper. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Attn Neale............................................................................
Hi Neale,
I have also been cleaning the tank with a sponge during the water change. I move around the rocks and pass the sponge over the bottom of tank floor and sides of inside when I see any type of haze building up.
IS this good?
Thank you
<No idea. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Thanks Neale 11/24/10
Hi Neale. Okay I will read up and ask more questions at store. Thanks for the information.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Lionhead Goldfish 11/13/10
Hi I have a Lionhead fish that is about 7 years old. He has never been unwell. However over the last few months he has developed a very swollen abdomen, and has gradually eaten less. He now just sits at the bottom of the tank only moving a little. He shares the tanks (a large BiOrb)
<... unsuitable... Way too small a volume for even a single goldfish. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GldfshTksF.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BiOrbF.htm
with a common goldfish which is perfectly healthy.
<Mmm, no... foreshortened, stressful lives>
The fish has a very swollen abdomen and a half cm white lump to the side if his head.
If you could give me any information this would be most appreciated.
<Read. Bob Fenner>

Sick Goldfish 11/2/10
<Hello Gillian,>
I have an eight year old comet goldfish who is exhibiting symptoms that I think indicate parasites.
<Doubtful. Although fish can carry parasites, they rarely come out of the blue. Fish that have been healthy for years and then suddenly get sick are FAR more likely to be harmed by something else, typically environment or poor diet.>
He is in a 15 gallon tank.
<Much too small. This is why your Goldfish is sick.>
I have been testing the water regularly over the past couple of weeks (which is when he started showing signs of illness) and they have always been good (ammonia 0, nitrite 0).
<Perhaps, but lack of oxygen is likely, and that will stress the fish. In any case, in a 15 gallon tank it's very unlikely an adult Goldfish will really experience perfect water quality 24/7, so I'm dubious about how informative your water quality results are.>
A couple of weeks ago, he seemed to be getting blood streaks in his fins and scales.
He also kept his dorsal down quite a bit, and his tail and fins started to look a bit torn or ragged. He wasn't exactly flashing, but he was darting around or shaking his head every now and then (which I think was mainly responsible for his ragged fins) I treated with Maracyn-two and things seemed to get a little better. However, a couple of days later, the symptoms persisted.
<Yes, entirely predictable.>
I did a couple of water exchanges over a couple of days to clean the water up. Tested it again and the water quality was good. I then tried to treat with Furan-2, hoping it was a broad spectrum medicine that would target what was wrong.
<Wishful thinking I'm afraid. While antibiotics can cure Finrot, they will only do so permanently if the environment is better. The bacteria themselves are latent in all aquaria, and ordinarily do no harm and perhaps some good breaking down organic matter. But if the fish is weakened for some reason, the bacteria understandably take advantage of that, and that's where Finrot comes into the picture.>
Again, things seemed to get better. His fins perked up and the blood left his fins and scales and his tail seemed to be healing. A couple of days ago, I came home in the evening time and found he looked a lot worse. His fins were clamped again, there was more blood at the base of his fins, his feces are pale, he seems to be losing weight, he was definitely flashing, and he seemed to have whitish patches on his tail. Not white dots, like with ich, but more cloudy in appearance. It's also not 'fuzzy' or stringy. Am I right to assume this is parasites? At this point I feel like I wasted a lot of time trying to treat for bacterial infections, when it was parasites all along.
<No. It's the environment that's wrong. The irony is that the money spent on medications would be better spent on a proper aquarium. Long term far better value. Goldfish need, at minimum, 30 gallons. If you don't have space for that, then don't keep Goldfish. That's the deal on the table. Lots of fish options for 10-15 gallon tanks. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/goldfish101art.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm >
Unfortunately now, it seems quite advanced. I wasn't sure what anti-parasite medication to use (there seem to be a lot and they all target different parasites). I thought to try Maracide, since I have had a lot of luck with the Mardel products. Also, I know it's safe to use other Mardel products, like Maracyn-two with it, which I thought would help to fight off any secondary infections. It is now day two of the Maracyn treatment and I don't see any improvement. If anything his fins seem more clamped and he seems to be getting tired after darting around the tank so much. At this point, my questions are: Is he infected with parasites? Is Maracide a good choice to try and treat him? Should I be seeing an improvement on the second day after the first treatment? Is there another anti-parasite medication you'd recommend? And lastly, is it beneficial to try and use aquarium salt to try and treat the parasites at the same time as using an anti-parasite medication? If so, how much salt over what time period should I use? I care very much for this fish and I feel I am running out of time and options. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, Gillian
<Your fish is almost certainly not infected with parasites so get that idea out of your head. The problem is almost certainly environmental. Until you provide a suitable aquarium, Finrot medications won't be able to fix things. While you may have dodged the bullet for the last eight years, you can't do that forever, and the basic science is that Goldfish need more than 15 gallons. Hope this clarifies things enough you can fix things. Cheers, Neale.>

sick goldfish... env. 10/17/10
My boyfriend and I were given a fish tank about two, maybe three, weeks ago, and we purchased two comet goldfish.
<Curious choice of gift.>
Our tank holds 25L (we live in Australia and I'm not too sure how much water that is in gallons),
<It's a bit over 6 US gallons.>
and we've been feeding them Aqua One Goldfish Flakes once daily.
<Okay, you do need to do some reading. Goldfish can't be kept in a tank this small. Start here to learn about Goldfish:
Then *read here to learn about stocking 5-gallon tanks, which is what you're essentially working with, the extra gallon-and-a-half will make no real difference:
For the first week or so the fish seemed perfectly happy, and seemed to be adapting well. We were even able to hand feed them :) But recently they've gotten pretty sick.. After doing some research on your site I have a feeling this could be due to poor water quality
<You are quite right.
Through the first week ammonia levels and nitrite levels can be fairly low, and their impact on fish health minimal. But as time passes things get worse and worse, and in a tank that hasn't been cycled, fish start getting sick or dying across the next few weeks.>
When we purchased the goldfish from a store specialising in fish they didn't give us very much information on caring for goldfish and I realise now that its not as simple as we thought.
<Indeed not. They're among the most difficult fish to keep, which is why their mortality rate is so high in captivity. At a guess, nine out of ten of them don't see their first birthday.>
We haven't tested our water but I plan on buying a test kit tomorrow so that I can try and figure out what exactly went wrong.
<Be sure to get a pH test and a nitrite test, as these are two essential ones.>
About one week ago I came home and both fish were sitting in the bottom left hand corner of the tank, at first I thought they were probably just sleeping but that night they still hadn't really moved at all and I realised something was obviously wrong.
They were like that for a couple of days, and when we fed them they would eat a flake and then spit it back out, like they couldn't swallow it.
<Loss of appetite; a common symptom.>
That's when I realised something was really wrong, they usually love to eat! They also had their fins "clamped" and we noticed tiny white spots on both of their tails, but from what I've read about Ich it didn't seem like that was the case.
<Could be Whitespot/Ick, or could be the early stages of Finrot.
We transferred them into a pot filled with tank water while we cleaned the whole tank (including the pebbles & fake plants) and put new water in for them. We treated the water first of course!
<What about filtration? Generally, cleaning the tank makes no difference. Fish don't get sick because of algae or silt at the bottom of the tank. The deadly stuff is invisible: ammonia and nitrite, and without adequate filtration -- and proper filter maintenance -- you'll not be able to stop your fish getting sick.>
Once they were back in the tank with clean water they seemed to be happier and the white spots were no longer visible, but after a few hours they were back on the bottom of the tank again.
<As expected; with new water, the ammonia and nitrite levels dropped, so the fish felt better.>
We didn't feed them anything the next day because they weren't able to swallow their food the day before. Yesterday morning one of the fish was sitting on the bottom but he was leaning to the side a bit, and I noticed that he had red underneath and on his sides, mostly around his gills and face. He also has what looks like white slimy stuff all over the top of him & on his head. Around his eyes are red (almost bruised looking) and they look puffy & swollen. Both fish are sick but he seems a lot worse.
<Do review the freshwater disease troubleshooting article linked above.>
Today we did a 20% water change, and as soon as I started to pour the clean water in he swam around for a little bit. That's when I noticed that the ends of both fish's tails looks like they've been eaten away,
I read an article on your site similar to what's been happening with our fish, so I bought some frozen peas this afternoon hoping that would make them feel a little better until I'm able to test the water tomorrow and try and find out what the problem is. I was also considering adding Epsom salt which I also read on your site as well as a few others,
<Epsom salt helps with constipation. Has nothing to do with your problems here!>
but I can't get that until tomorrow either. When the pea had defrosted I took the shell off and cut it into smaller pieces for them, but when we put the pieces in the water the fish didn't take much of an interest in them at all.
<I bet.>
The other goldfish, who seems to be in slightly better shape than the one I described previously, ate one piece but then spat it out immediately like they did with the flakes a few days ago. Her mouth was open for a couple of seconds and she looked as if she was choking, then she swam around for a bit and went back to the bottom with the other fish. I apologize for the length of my email, we haven't had our fish for very long but we've become very fond of them and I really want to do everything in my power to help them overcome whatever's making them ill. I plan on doing another 20% water change tomorrow as that seemed to help. I hope you guys are able to tell me what's wrong with them, and help us do whatever we can to get them back to being happy healthy fish! Zoe
<Zoe, your fish are doomed without a much larger aquarium and better attention to water quality. For two Comets, which are among the larger Goldfish, potentially 25-30 cm long, we're talking about a 180-litre tank, minimum, and preferably 250 litres. Fancy Goldfish, like Moors and Fantails, stay smaller and swim more slowly, so they're okay in tanks from about 150 litres upwards. Bear in mind Goldfish grow very fast, and will easily reach 15 cm within the first year, so while you can keep them in, say, a 100-litre system for a few months to a year, there's no point investing much money in a system that small if you won't be able to afford a bigger tank a year from now. Your fish WILL die in this 25-litre system, and all the medications in the world won't do anything more than postpone their execution. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick goldfish 10/18/10

Hi again,
We're definitely looking to purchase a bigger tank,
and I will be testing the water as soon as possible to try & determine exactly why the fish got sick.
<Very good.>
They still have no interest in food, but after another 20% water change this morning they seem much happier.
<Appetite will come back when the fish feel better. Don't worry about their feeding for now. Once you provide good environmental conditions, they will get hungry again.>
Both fish have been swimming around a little today, but Princess (the fish that seemed to be doing a little better than the other one) is covered in white stuff today as well. She had a little bit along her back today but now it's all over her face (especially all around her mouth), the top of her & some on her tail too.
I know in the last email you said the white stuff may have been Ick
<No, I didn't say that; quite the reverse if I recall.>
but it looks more like wet cotton or slimy cauliflower than tiny grains of salt which is how I have seen Ick described in some articles I've read on your site.
<As stated in my last e-mail, you need to go through that "do-it-yourself" disease troubleshooting chart and find out what the problem is. I'd bet all the money in my pocket that it's Finrot, Fungus, or very possibly both.>
Do you have any idea what this might be and do you have any suggestions on what we can do to make them better?
<Both Finrot and Fungus are caused by poor environmental conditions. Fix the environment so that they are exposed to zero ammonia and zero nitrite, and medicate as per these infections. Without fixing the environment medicating will have little, if any, long-term effect.>
I plan on doing another water change tomorrow as the water is slightly cloudy again already,
the fish seem to be peeling, not scales bur little bits of the white stuff that they're covered in :s Also any ideas on how we can get them to eat?
<Least of your problems. Goldfish can, do go months without food. So this isn't a problem. They are going to die because their environment is lethal and that has allowed their bodies to become riddled with opportunistic bacteria, not because they're starving. Focus on what matters, not trivia.>
Thank you for taking the time to read and reply, we really want to fix the problem asap.
<Glad to help. Read the links I gave you last time. Everything you need to know/fix is there. It's actually very simple. 25 litres of water = dead Goldfish. 150 litres + fungus/Finrot medication = these Goldfish should recover. Cheers, Neale.>

Attn Neale. Petecchial GF - 10/10/10
Hi Neale,
Don't know if you remember me but I wrote to you in July about my fish Sparticus.
<Indeed, I remember.>
He died today after being well for quite a long time.
<Oh, too bad. Sorry to hear this.>
He had a redness appear back which I have taken a photo of. I happened very quickly. He had a 30 gallon tank and the reading were no ammonia ph 7.2 He was curled over on his side when I found him. Not straight flat on his side but head and tail to rocks and stomach higher.
This was on his under belly. What is it?
<The red is likely inflammation, but whether caused by something in the water, or abrasion with sharp gravel/sand, or a bacterial infection it's hard to say. I would take some time out to review living conditions in the aquarium, and if so moved, improve them. Do remember if you plan on adding new fish, you'll need to keep the bacteria alive. A pinch of flake every day or two should do the trick.>
Thank you for your help
<Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Attn Neale - 10/10/10
Thank you Neal.
What's a pinch of flake.
<A small pinch, a few flakes.>
There was another fish in there and he's okay.
<Oh, if there's a fish in the tank right now, then he'll be making all the ammonia required. No need for extra flake beyond what the fish in there is eating.>
Should I wait a week or so to add new ones in ?
<Give it 4-6 weeks before adding anything else. It takes at least that long for some diseases to become obvious. The longer you wait, the safer things will be for the new fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Black Moor problems, env. 10/6/10
I have 2 black moors. One I got at Wal-Mart and he's doing great...absolutely no problems. I got a 2nd one a month later from PetSmart and she was floating on her side and having trouble getting to the
bottom of the 16 gal. bowfront tank. I read some of your responses for the "floaties" and I started giving my fish the peeled peas and sinking fish food. She was doing fine for a while and now she's just sitting on the bottom and is hardly eating. I have a 10" long airstone in the tank. I also have 2 orange fantails that are medium size and 3 really small calico fantail juveniles. The black moor (Cricket) was so full of energy and
personality and now she just sits. She also has was looks like a bite mark on her head behind her goggly-eye.
Thanks, Janel
<Hello Janel. This is a simple one to answer. Your aquarium is much too small for Goldfish. The lethargy is a sign of stress, and the bite mark probably early-stage Finrot. Two juveniles up to 8 cm/3 inches would need 20 gallons -- and you have seven in 16 gallons! For this many Goldfish, even as yearlings, you'd need 30-40 gallons, and as adults -- i.e., what they'll need once 12-18 months old -- would be nearer the 75 gallon mark. It doesn't really matter what you do in terms of food, I'm sure that water quality and oxygen concentration are inadequate. Start by reading here:
Research what you need for Goldfish, and then consider some sensible, humane stocking options for a 16 gallon tank. A school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows, perhaps with a small gang of Peppered Corydoras might be just the thing if you can heat the tank to around 20-22 C/68-72 F. Cheers, Neale.>

goldfish! Hlth... env., sigh... 9/29/10
<Hello Kayla,>
I would like to know if goldfish keep their top fin on top of their body down if they are shy or scared?
<Not really, no.>
if neither than please tell me the real answer!
<Fish fins are controlled by bones -- the fin rays -- and muscles underneath them. When fish don't hold their fins out normally, e.g., if they looked fine yesterday but look odd today, then there's something
stressing them. The weaker the fish, the less able it is to hold its fins out properly. "Deportment", for want of a better word, is a good clue as to the overall health and happiness of a fish, in much the same way that a limp or weakness indicates when a human being is sick or injured.>
u could be a bug help!
<A bug help?>
I have 3 goldfish but now I actually have 2 because on died last night!
<Oh dear. I'm going to take a gamble that you added a bunch of fish to a brand new aquarium without cycling it first. Maturing a new aquarium takes about 3-6 weeks. After that time you can safely add some fish. Goldfish also need a very large aquarium, and contrary to what people often think, they can't live in bowls or small tanks. We're talking 20 gallons or so for a couple of juveniles up to about 3 inches/8 cm, and 30 gallons or more for Goldfish larger than that. In smaller aquaria than 20 gallons their mortality rate is extremely high.>
I'm sad but I only got her on this Saturday and didn't seem like she was eating well and stayed more towards the bottom! I have another and he is very energetic and swims around and is also a pig and tries to steel food but I'm afraid if I put them in he is going to eat them all them blow his belly and die and the others not eat at all and die!
<Fish don't die from overeating. That's a myth. In bowls and very small tanks (anything under 20 gallons) the fish are poisoned by the ammonia they excrete. If you overfeed such fish in small bowls, the rotting uneaten food simply makes things even worse. In a mature tank upwards of 20 gallons, you can feed a small pinch of food once or twice a day without any risk at all.>
so what I have been doing is actually watching them eat! tiger is the energetic one and the one that eta a lot! but the other one is Gary and always has his top fin don't and is usually at the bottom away from tiger(
the energetic ) and daisy is the one that passes last night! well Gary ( top fin down) always used to hang around with daisy and now she isn't there with him and will that effect him? or the other goldfish?! well please and thank you answer my questions and please answer them soon!
<Do read the links below; my intuition here is you killed this fish by lack of planning, and that the remaining fish may not be living for long either.
I don't mean to be harsh, merely honest.
Cheers, Neale.>

... lg. GF is 5 gal.s 9/26/10
Hello, I recently rescued a large gold fish from someone that was not properly caring for him. He is said to be a couple of years old. His tank was very dirty. He was floating at the top but still breathing. I have put him in a 5 gallon fish tank with a filter system, he is the only fish in there, and put him in clean (bottled not tap) water. Is there anything else I can do for this poor guy? He's still just floating at the top like he's dead but trying to breathe'¦ Thanks so much for your help! ~Melinda
<Hello Melinda. The short answer is that 5 gallons won't be enough for him. On top of that, and I know this sounds ironic, but moving a fish from one set of conditions to another, even if the new conditions are much better, can stress the fish severely, causing it to go into shock. Better to do small, regular water changes -- say 25% every week -- than bigger water changes all of sudden. Thirdly, bottled water is not necessarily a good choice, and certainly not economical. Non-softened tap water with some water conditioner added is generally best. In the meantime, I suggest you read here:
Goldfish are -- despite their mythology -- quite expensive and difficult to keep, and the fact many people keep them in bowls and 5-gallon tanks masks the reality that something like 99% of the Goldfish kept that way die within a few months. A couple of "tiddlers" up to, say, 4 inches might be kept in a 20 gallon tank, but 2-3 adults will be 8-10 inches in length once they're more than about three years old, and such fish need, at minimum, 30 gallons. If that's not an option for you, an animal shelter may be able to help. In the United States one risk when taking Goldfish to a pet store is that low-quality Goldfish get sold as feeder fish. Here in the UK this barbaric and unwise habit has died out, and the better aquarium shops, including the Maidenhead Aquatics chain, will take in and rehome any fish you can't keep. So if you're in England, that may be an option. Cheers, Neale.>

My fish seems to have dropsy... 9/7/2010
I've had a fish die of dropsy
<Mmm, a symptom... like "pop-eye", HLLE... not the result of a specific pathogen, genetics, environmental abuse... "Dropsical conditions" have a few etiologies/causes>
a few months ago, and the condition of my current fish is worrisome.
It is a 3 inch long Red Cap Oranda living in a 10 gallon tank.
<... Much too small a volume. This is likely the largest origin of trouble here... Had you read...>
We have no heater in the tank, and we occasionally do forget to change the water (I suspect this may be an issue).
I just did a 100% water change today
<... not a good idea>
after about a week. I added 4 tsp. of API Aquarium Salt,
<Of no use...>
but it doesn't seem to have had a very significant impact on the fish. It seems to have swollen eyes (the area beneath the eyes are a little bit puffy), and the scales on one side seem to be protruding a bit. This just started today. However, she was also sitting right on the bottom, tail up, and the area right behind the gills are puffy.
I've tried to diagnose this, but I can't tell if it is a body slime issue or if it is indeed dropsy. Both have the sign of abnormal osmotic function. I am considering using the Fungus Cure from API to try to treat it, but I'm also not sure if Victoria Green B and Acriflavine
<Also non-efficacious>
will have dangerous side effects on fish that do not need them.
I hope you can help.
<I hope you can read. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
The third to last tray down.
Bob Fenner
My fish may have dropsy.. .
Adding to what I already sent you in my previous email, I did check out the malnutrition area of the site, and I'm now trying to figure out whether this may
be the cause of my fish's dropsy-like appearance.
<Mmm, what are you feeding? And, do the fish's scales protrude from the sides?>
If malnutrition is indeed the culprit, could you suggest some stores where I can buy Epsom salt
<Most any good-sized grocery store>
to add to the tank in addition to the vegetables I give them? And is it okay if I only feed green peas to my fish or do I have to feed leafy greens such as spinach?
<Both are fine Anna. BobF>
Re: My fish may have dropsy... 9/8/10

Other than the tank conditions, my fish was eating the flake food you find at pet stores (which has a much too high protein content now that I read the diet page).
<Very common>
I also gave it a few deshelled, defrosted green peas several times each month to aid in digestion.
<Need daily>
The scales on one side are noticeably lifted slightly. It's not quite like the full-blown protrusion seen in dropsy, but the previous fish (who was overfed, probably the culprit) had similar symptoms prior to dropsy.
If malnutrition is the case and veggies and water changes will reverse the damage, then is Epsom still necessary as written on the website?
<The magnesium sulfate can help discernibly. BobF>

Hi re bloated goldfish 9/3/10
Hi , I recently bought my daughter two gold fish,
<Without wanting to be a killjoy, Goldfish are not good pets for children.
Among other things they need a large aquarium -- at least 30 gallons/150 litres -- and those cute plastic My Little Pony aquaria sold to appeal to children are DEATH TRAPS as far as Goldfish are concerned.>
after two weeks, one of them has started to swell around the abdomen, It seems happy, its not constipated and eats normally just doesn't look right, any suggestions very welcomed .
<Abdominal bloating can be caused by a number of things, including constipation and dropsy, this latter usually associated with the scales sticking out like a pine cone when the fish is viewed from above. I want to be surprised and find out you're keeping these fish in a tank at least 30 gallons in size with a big strong filter. Unfortunately experience tells me that most parents who buy their children pet Goldfish do so without having read a single book beforehand, and they end up sticking a couple of "small" (i.e., juvenile) Goldfish into a 5-10 gallon plastic aquarium or God help us a bowl. Do read here:
That article will tell you what you need AT MINIMUM to keep Goldfish humanely. Sure, people keep Goldfish in bowls. But most of them die. All that teaches children is that animals are there to be used as we humans want, without any thought at all to that animal's welfare. Once you've read that article, read this one about dropsy:
After that, please e-mail me back, and tell me more about the aquarium you have. For example, did you mature the filter for a few weeks before adding the Goldfish? What's the water chemistry and water quality? These are key bits of information I need to provide you with the help you need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish
Hi thanks this has been very useful , The tank is only about 6 gallon
<Far too small'¦ this is why the fish is sick, either directly or indirectly. Do read the articles to which I directed you last time.>
and has under gravel filter and pump ,
<Undergravel filters can be okay for Goldfish, but they need to be quite large, and very well maintained. Wouldn't be my first choice to be honest.>
I don't know what levels the water are at as I don't have any equipment to test it but shall go to pet store , They have a diet of vegetarian flakes some pellets and I have a couple of plants in there which they seem to love eating ,
<Good! They love fresh greens, and they're good for them.>
It looks like the fancy fish has dropsy and I will go and get meds for it , seems happy enough eating well .
<There is no medicine for Dropsy; while some antibiotics can help, you need to fix the environment for them to have ANY chance of working. If you stick with 6 gallons, I can almost guarantee you'll kill these fish. If your shop says otherwise, the clerk is taking advantage of your ignorance. A 6-gallon tank with a heater and filter would be fine for a couple of Dwarf African Frogs and some Cherry Shrimps, a much more interesting and easy to maintain community for your family to share.>
Thanks again for your help
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish
Hi thanks again, the under gravel has a bubble tube coming it from it
<Likely inadequate if the water is getting murky.>
with a filter cartridge on top
<Useless gimmicks.>
changing water 50% a week to keep it clean and add chlorine removal liquid, but water does get murky quite quickly .
<Indeed. The tank is too small. You're keeping an elephant in a rabbit hutch. Do read the articles I sent you. You have two choices. Replace the Goldfish with livestock suitable for 6 gallons, or upgrade the tank to a 30 gallon tank. Goldfish in 6 gallons end up dead, usually. Even the ones that live are miserable.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hi re bloated goldfish 9/3/10

Ok point taken thanks Ill get it sorted thanks very much
<Glad to help. Do read here for some ideas for stocking 5/6 gallon tanks:
Cheers, Neale.>

Fantail help 8/26/10
I have read your website but I'm still not 100% sure exactly what's wrong with my fish.
He's on his own in quite a large tank, I have been using intrepid filter that came with the tank. The fish has been in his tank now for over 12 months (he's approximately 4 years old) , I recently (over a month ago) added 2 apple snails as I was told by the pet shop that these would also help the tank stay clean.
The fish has turned red (it almost looks like blood under his scales) and he is lying at the bottom of the tank and appears to be off his food. I have had a look at him and he had a white spot on his head but that has disappeared now so I don't think it is white spot. I have done a partial water change and rinsed out the filters (I have two in at the moment as I thought one of them was breaking down-the intrepid one and a Fluval one) he has improved slightly but he's still very red and still lying out at the bottom the tank.
I'm going to the pet shop this evening do you have any advice what I can get for the tank to cure my fish?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
<Hello Sue. The red at least is Finrot if confined to the fins and small patches on the skin, or Septicaemia if widespread across the body. The latter follows on from the former if untreated, and Finrot itself is caused by chronically poor water conditions. Septicaemia is essentially untreatable without antibiotics, which in the UK will need to be bought from a vet, not a pet store. The "anti internal bacteria" products sold in pet shops in the UK are useless and a waste of your money. Call your vet, explain the situation and the likely infection of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, and have them write a prescription. Yes, the medication will cost a bit more than the stuff from the pet shop, but at least it'll work. I can GUARANTEE that anything your pet shop sells for Septicaemia won't work at all. But I can't tell you why your fish is sick from what you've told me. Goldfish need quite a large tank, at least 100 litres and realistically a bit more than that, just for one. If you've stuck the fish in a small aquarium with a poky filter, then Finrot or Septicaemia are extremely likely. Do make sure you understand the needs of Goldfish. Despite being cheap, they are NOT cheap to keep, and many, perhaps most are killed through lack of understanding of what they need.
Without treatment, this fish will probably need to be euthanised, as Septicaemia at least doesn't get better by itself, as I'm sure you already know.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fantail help 8/26/10
Hi Neale
Thank you very much for your quick response. I'll phone the vets this afternoon and get the antibiotic.
<Doubtless they will ask for the symptoms. Be sure the tell them where the bloody patches are appearing. Stress that you understand Finrot and Septicaemia are different things, but suspect the latter. The vet may recommend euthanasia, depending on how far the infection has spread. Clove Oil works well for this.>
The tank I have is quite a big one,
<But how big is that? To someone starting out, 10 gallons/40 litres can seem huge. But it's not. Let's say you have a 120 litre aquarium, the minimum practical size for Goldfish. That would measure about 80-100 cm from left to right, 30-40 cm from front to back, and about 40-50 cm from top to bottom.>
I was told when I bought it I could have at least 2-3 fantails in it.
<Indeed. But retailers will sometimes say any old thing. After all, they make money selling stuff, and sometimes, just sometimes, they're not altogether frank about how much space Goldfish need. A four-year-old Goldfish should be about 15 cm long, about the size of a side plate. A big adult will be nearer 20 cm, plus the big droopy fins, so nearer the size of
a dinner plate. These are BIG fish, much bigger than most tropical fish, which is why tropical fish are actually EASIER for beginners than Goldfish.>
the problem occurred after I put the snails in so I wasn't sure if they were carrying a disease or not when I put them in.
<Likely irrelevant. Sure, if the snails die because you add a copper-based medication to the water that would be bad for water quality. But overfeeding would do the same thing. Generally though, snails shouldn't be added to Goldfish tanks simply because they don't necessarily have the same requirements.>
the tank always appeared clear and the new filters seemed to be working fine so I never thought it might be a water problem, I'll check the tank this evening.
<Very good.>
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

My Goldfish Butch, sys., hlth. 7/30/10
Greeting to you all. First off please excuse any grammar issues I may present.
<Our reputation precedes us! Honestly, Lynn, it's not about being grammar fiends or frustrated English teachers, but merely about clarity, both for and our readers, as well as for search engines that catalogue the pages on this web site. We don't need the Great American Novel, just something clear and easy to read.>
I've had my common goldfish for 19 years now.
<A good age for a Goldfish, which should like around 20 years or so in captivity, potentially over 30.>
He's in a 10 gallon tank and has been most of his life.
<All the more remarkable! Honestly, this tank is at least half the size it should be, and I'd argue one-third the size.>
He's been some what lethargic for about 3 years now.
<Ah yes, a combination of large size, lack of swimming space, lack of oxygen, and perhaps decreasing "vitality" as the fish enters middle age.>
He sits in the corner out of the way of the bubble wall. He's had bend in his tail for many many years and some times there is blood streaks in the long tail.
<That's Finrot, or more accurately, the blood-filled congestions caused by bacteria attacking the fin tissue. So far, it sounds like the fish's immune system has contained the infection, which is likely what happens in many cases. But you're skating on thin ice here, and sooner or later the fin tissue will start to rot as blood stops being able to flow freely through the fins.>
His tail and all of his fins are very long and flowing.
<Good. But as your accountant would say about an investment, "past performance is no guarantee of future results". In other words, just because you've dodged the bullet so far, doesn't mean you'll be so lucky tomorrow.>
Until recently I have always cleaned the tank about once every two month and treated the water with just a chlorine blocker.
<Well, you've really done what people did 50 years ago, and most of the time their fish died. Some survived of course, and yours is a testament to that. But do understand you're doing everything wrong. That your fish has survived is a reflection on the hardiness of the species we call Carassius auratus, and as much as you may love this pet, you've really not done anything much to help him or her. I know that's blunt, but it is the truth.
Goldfish need a 30 gallon tank, a filter, and a 25% water change every week to two. Let me assure you that you're the lucky one. I can guarantee that for every 100 goldfish kept the way you've kept yours, 99 of them will be dead within the first year. It's kind of like when you hear about the guy in Siberia who lives to a hundred smoking Russian cigarettes and drinking vodka at every meal. Sure, that happens, but any doctor will tell you most of the people who do that wind up dead long before their hundredth birthday!>
There is no plant life just two to three inches of gravel and a long air stone.
<I see. Again, live plants are important for Goldfish as food, if nothing else.>
I came home from vacation last week to find him on his side with a cloudy slightly popped out right eye and a lot of streaking in his tail.
<Ah, and so it begins.>
I just assumed that the tail bend was from old age and the blood streaking as stress from that long tail.
<Not really, no.>
I have since learned otherwise. I have lowered the level to about 7 gallons added salt and treated the water with Maracyn-oxy(it's been 5 days now).
<I see.>
I have taken him off flake and am just feeding him 4 to 8 peas a day.
Some days he seems to up right himself better than other days. I tested the water and everything looks good but the ammonia level is a little high right now so I plan to get some ammo lock as well.
<Do understand Ammo Lock is for treating ammonia in tap water. Let me repeat that: IN TAP WATER. It is NOTHING to do with the ammonia produced by the fish as it metabolises. The analogy would be like me washing a frying pan once, and then declaring that it never needs be cleaned again. The ammonia your fish produces needs to be processed by a biological filter.>
What else can I do?
<Many, many things. Start by reading:
His eye is still a little bit popped and it happens to be on the side he seems to fall to when he cannot right himself.
<Both common symptoms in bad conditions; see here:
Okay, let's fillet this right down. You dodged the bullets right up until the last few weeks; your poor fish is now peppered with bullets! He needs a whole new and better environment, or he WILL die.>
The tail is completely blood free but very bent and he usually rests nose down with that long tail kinked over to the point where he looks like an upside down U. Should I get medicine to add to the food?
<Least of your problems.>
I first thought he had dropsy but have since ruled that out. What is difficult for me is getting the fish store folks to get over the fact he's 19 years old and just help me add another 10 years to his life. Please help and thanks in advance for any and all advice.
<You could do that with at least 20 gallons, and ideally 30 gallons, plus a proper biological filter offering a turnover rate of at least 4 and ideally 6 times the volume of the tank per hour.>
Proud owner of Butch Fisher
<Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Goldfish Butch 7/30/2010

Thank you Neale. It was the first thing I asked for at the fish store, a bigger tank but they talked me out of it.
<!!! The only explanation I can think of is they make more money selling fish than selling hardware, so the faster the fish dies, the sooner they make a new sale. But honestly, that's insanity. Yes, you'd want to move the mature filter from one tank to another, and yes, you'd want to minimise water chemistry differences between the old tank and the new tank. But otherwise, moving from a small tank to a bigger one is always better.>
I will get him a completely new environment this weekend.
<Very good news. As I say, take care not shock the fish by exposing him to dramatically different temperature and water chemistry. The fact the tank is psychologically bigger isn't a problem; in the wild fish move around all
the time and don't keel over from surprise!>
And really from the bottom of my ignorant fish having heart I thank you for your bluntness. It's exactly what I needed. Lynne in Seattle
<Real good. Glad I didn't offend -- sometimes by British brusqueness doesn't cross the Atlantic particularly well! Good luck, Neale.>

Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update #2 8/11/10
Greetings to WetWeb (Neale):
<Greetings back at you.>
Ok at this point while my tank has yet to fully cycle I have been successful at keeping the nitrite and ammo at around .25 or lower with 30% water changes almost daily.
<I'm concerned here. Diluting ammonia through daily 25% water changes isn't really a hobby, it's a job! It's also going to dilute any medications you're using. We've been at this a couple of weeks now, so I'd be tempted to lay off the water changes for a couple of days to see what happens. If the ammonia stays below 0.25 mg/l, I'd stick with the usual 25% weekly water changes. I'd perhaps add a little salt to the water, a teaspoon per gallon, just to slightly detoxify any nitrite. Goldfish tolerate salt well, so this won't harm them.>
My issue at this point is his/her heavy breathing while camped out in the corner at the bottom. Can it's spinal deformity alone keep the fish from breathing properly?
<Can't see how.>
I treated the old tank for 5 days with Maracyn-Oxy and salt weeks ago and am now (in the new tank) on day 3 of another round of Maracyn. My feeling at this point is that maybe he/she has an internal parasite or bacterial
infection (maybe flukes) that may warrant a stronger antibiotic such as Metronidazole.
<Perhaps. It's very difficult to say.>
I have two questions for you about that drug. Do I proceed with the Metro and if I should can I use the 500 mg pills I already have in my home. Of course these pills are mine but aren't they the same thing one would get from a vet?
<I've not used Metronidazole, and it's normally used only with a vet's prescription here in the UK. So I'd not recommend using tablets "lying around" the house. But with that said, I know people have done this; see here for doses:
Butch is eating well and when he/she does swim it's with great vigor. The eyes are still cloudy but he really does seems to staring at me with those "help me just a little more I'm almost better" eyes. If I am correct that I can use my pills do you have any idea of the right ratio of milligram to tank water?
<See above.>
Looking forward to the day when my tank is NOT a triage unit. Thanks, Lynne in Seattle.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update #2 8/11/10

Last night I didn't not change the water. The ammo is finally at zero but the nitrite is still there hovering below .25.
<Nitrite levels lag behind ammonia.>
The fish seemed less labored in it's breathing but was also eating less.
There is salt in the tank at the appropriate levels. I made sure to at least put the daily Maracyn med in after the water change. Of course after I asked about the Metro med I found that dose info. I'm just stuck between acting and being patient. Thank you. Lynne
<Little footsteps but in the right direction. Cheers, Neale.>

Greetings (Neale). Well I'm sorry to say it but Butch died this weekend. I found him Sunday, dead and oddly more upright than ever floating in his own cloud.
<Too bad.>
He stopped eating 5 days ago and I knew it was coming. I cleaned the tank along with a 50% water change. Am I way off base when I say that the fishes death sped up the cycling process?
<Can't imagine it makes a big difference either way. But if you remove a big fish from an overstocked aquarium, and leave behind just some small fish, things generally improve. On the other hand, an empty aquarium needs a source of ammonia, even if that's just a pinch of flake added every day and allowed to decay inside the filter.>
Because my numbers are better than ever about 4 hours after the cleanup.
Since I added Metronidazole, the last dose being Friday, should I add a charcoal filter into the system to clean it out or leave it as is?
<Either is fine. In theory, organic compounds tend to be metabolised by bacteria within a day or so, and therefore there's little need in most cases for adding carbon. On the other hand, some medications may take longer to break down than others, and certain fish are more sensitive than others, in which case using carbon can provide some benefits. I wouldn't bother though.>
The one thing I am not finding in any of my 4 fish books is post mortem tank maintenance. It's sad/odd not seeing the fish after 19+ years but have since discovered I have snails. Fast moving very small snails that must have hitched a ride on the Elodea.
<Very likely.>
How soon can I restock with a couple of new goldfish?
<The bacteria do need a new source of ammonia within a day or two, or their populations will die back to levels appropriate to a bunch of snails rather than a goldfish. So adding one or two juvenile Goldfish within the next couple of days makes sense. On the other hand, you may elect to finish off cycling the tank using a fish-less method, and only add those fish once ammonia and nitrite levels consistently remain at zero. I'd recommend the latter.>
I feel a bit guilty for asking and am quite sure I have violated some after death protocol. :) Best Regards, Lynne in Seattle
<Good luck with the next fish! Cheers, Neale.>

Bottom sitting goldfish, water parameters normal (Bob, any ideas?)<<None addnl., though these fish are being "dwarfed" by current circumstances. B>> 7/22/10
I've searched your site for "bottom sitting" and found plenty of articles, but (and I'm sure everyone says this) couldn't find one that had my same circumstances. So, here it goes'¦
I have a 3 yr old Shubunkin goldfish, about 4 inches long not counting the tail, in a tank that's been set up for about a year. It's a 27gal with a 150 gph filter and strong air stone. I tried putting in a 300 gph filter last year, but the current was too strong and my fish was getting knocked against decorations, so I switched back.
<Fine. You're already offering a turnover rate about 6 times the volume of the tank which should be okay for a small Goldfish.>
For years, I used carbon in the filter media, but took it out a couple months ago after reading it wasn't recommended.
<Indeed. All carbon does is remove dissolved organic compounds such as tannins that turn the water yellow. That was useful back when people did 10% water changes once a month, as these compounds were not only unsightly but also lowered the pH. But if you're doing regular water changes around 25% every week or two, you shouldn't have much organic material in the water at all, so the carbon doesn't do anything useful. And unless you're changing the carbon once every two or three weeks, it stops working anyway, and just becomes biological media filled with bacteria. You may as well use a proper biological media that's cheaper and easier to maintain!>
For several months now, I've noticed my fishy sitting in the same spot on the bottom of the tank at night after all the lights have been turned out, like he is sleeping. But he would always perk up if I came in the room/turned on the light/fed him/etc. But, now he goes through episodes where he "sleeps" during the day, too, and will not even get up to eat for many minutes when I come over.
<May be a variety of things, including boredom, constipation, lack of oxygen in the water.>
Plus, the other day he was swimming funny, letting the current push him around and barely using his fins. I really thought he was dying. But other times, he seems perfectly normal, picking at gravel, swimming, etc. It is very inconsistent and definitely alarming.
<I would imagine.>
More background info: I regularly test my water with API drops and ammonia, nitrite are always zero. Nitrate = 5-7. pH is high at 8.4, but I live in Florida with very hard water. At least the pH is very stable.
<And fine for Goldfish, which like hard, basic water chemistry.>
Temp is stable also at 76 F.
<This is very high for Goldfish, and may be lowering the oxygen content in the water.>
I change 25-30% of the water every other week since he is the only fish in there and ammonia is always zero. I use aged water treated with Prime and cycled through a UV filter. I only feed once per day, a small amount and vary between bloodworms, pre-soaked Wardley Advanced Nutrition Flakes, pre-soaked Spirulina/algae discs, and peas. I'll admit that I got lazy for several weeks and fed only the bloodworms, but I've switched now to peas for the last several days to "clean out" his system, but no change in behavior.
<OK. Well, I imagine if constipation was the problem it'd be cleared out by now.>
It would be good to point out now that I have a second goldfish, a 2.5 inch comet, in a separate tank. He is treated and fed *identically* to the Shubunkin and is happy as a lark. I got him about a year ago and he's been growing nicely ever since. I have never seen him bottom-sit.
I know this is a long post, but I'm at a loss as to what is wrong with my Shubunkin. I thought about flukes, but he doesn't seem to have rapid gill movement, although I'm not sure what "normal" vs. rapid really is.
<Can be difficult to judge, and does depend somewhat on temperature, fish ventilating their gills more as temperature goes up. It's usually easier to judge "rapid" breathing or "laboured" breathing when you have a bunch of the same species, and one of them is odd. In any case, Goldfish will tend to gasp at the surface if the water contains too little oxygen, but with that said they'll also hang in midwater looking glum.>
He does yawn sometimes or at least moves his mouth a lot, but he doesn't gasp at the surface. I don't see anything abnormally wrong with him except some old Finrot damage that never grew back. No sores, visible parasites, spots, etc. Could this behavior be a symptom of a lack of oxygen?
<That would be one thing easy enough to test. Try adjusting the filter so it produces lots of turbulence at the surface, either by adjusting the out-flow pipe or lowering the water level so there's more of a "waterfall" from the filter. Alternatively, try replacing 50% of the water with fresh, dechlorinated water that's been aerated for an hour or so. Either way, if the fish perks up for a while, then oxygen may be an issue. Also try floating a litre-sized block of ice in the tank. If the cooling effect perks the fish up, again, oxygen or overheating could be issues. One last thing. Try keeping the other Goldfish in the same tank as this one, or at least putting them both in whichever tank is biggest. If they both swim about happily, then boredom might be the issue.>
The bottom sitting happens mostly at night and in the morning.
Thank you for your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bottom sitting goldfish, water parameters normal 7/22/10

Hi Neale,
Thank you for the advice.
<My pleasure.>
I've been putting off getting a bigger tank due to the expense, but I think now would be a good time to get a bigger one and combine both fish into one, like you suggested. (The Shubunkin is in a tall hex-tank, not ideal for goldfish.)
<Yikes! Yes, these are of marginal usefulness at best, and I don't recommend people buy them.>
I'll use my existing filter media to avoid cycling issues. I'll also try to design the new tank with better oxygenation "just in case".
<Long and low works well! Fish tend not to care about depth so long as their backs are wet, but surface area is a big deal for all sorts of reasons. So if you have the option, a "long" rectangular tank is usually better than any other design.>
In the meantime, I will try the ice and agitation suggestions you mentioned to see if there is any difference in behavior. (Fingers crossed!) IF I don't see an improvement within a couple days of trying these, do you think
treating him for flukes would be a good idea in case I am just not recognizing the symptoms?
<External flukes should be obvious, little black things stuck the fish.
Gill flukes are trickier, but you can use salt safely with Goldfish as both dip and bath; see here:
It's not easy to diagnose gill flukes though. Heavy breathing, gasping are common symptoms, but these can be caused by other things too, and I'm sure more than ninety-nine percent of the time that aquarium or pond fish are
lethargic, flashing or gasping there are other factors at work.>
One thing I forgot to mention is that he swims around the large air stone a lot and every once in a while kind of rubs on it, but it's hard to tell if he's just playing. He doesn't do that to any other decorations, as far as I can tell. His sleeping spot is also right next to the air stone.
<Again, it may be that the higher oxygen content is pleasant. Fish migrate between patches of water even within ponds, and do so to experience warmer or cooler water, or for more oxygen, or whatever. A curious fact is that
some fish will swim into warmer patches when they're sick, so they can run a fever of sorts, and thereby speed up their immune reaction. Irrelevant here, but an indication that fish will try and "treat" themselves up to a point.>
Again, thank you for your valued assistance. Your team helped me through a problem about a year ago that really taught me a lesson in not jumping to a diagnosis and randomly medicating before looking at environment/system
<Oh yes indeed. >
I'm sure my little Shubunkin is still around today because of this help.
<I'm glad we've been able to help before.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Question about my goldfish 7/19/10
I've had my Shubunkin Goldfish for about 2 years now, and have never had any major problems. I just upgraded his tank from a 10g to a 60g hex tank.
<Mmm, plus points for the larger volume, not so much for the shape of this system... more "flat, box-like" shapes are better by far for goldfish. More swimming room, surface area for gaseous diffusion>
I cycled the new tank for a month before I put him in, and have been adding BioZyme as instructed.
<Mmm, I hope this product works for you>
Decor-wise, there are several small flowerpots turned to their sides, a large hollow ornament, and several fake plants. I have a few live plants that I put in there as well (Anubias, I believe). I'm using the TopFin 60 filter, I have an airstone, and a fluorescent light. The other tank inhabitants are 2 Amano shrimp, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco (which I bought about a week after adding the shrimp and goldfish). Current tank stats are:
Ammonia: 0 Temp: 70 Ph: 7.1 . We do have mildly hard tap water here. I've been using Prime as my dechlorinator/slime coat/etc treatment. I also add aquarium salt when I do water changes.
<I would not likely do this. Please read here:
and the linked (above) FAQs file>
I generally feed my goldfish a combination of bloodworms, flake food, peas and pellets (though, he doesn't seem to like those much :)) He also tends to nibble on the algae disks I drop in for the shrimp and Pleco.
It's been two weeks since I added my goldfish and shrimp (about 1 week for the Pleco). Lately, my goldfish has been acting very strangely. He's eating just fine, and looks fairly healthy, but he's swimming like he's gone mad!
He'll sit in one place for a bit, then dart off around the tank, sometimes running into the sides. He's tried to jump out of the tank several times, and I think this has caused some swelling on the top of his head (from hitting the hood?). Whenever I get near the tank, he runs and hides, instead of eagerly coming to the top waiting for food. Usually, he's fine- picking around the bottom for food, playing in the bubbles from the airstone, But every now and then he has these episodes. He won't hold still long enough for me to check him for any spots or anything, and I have no idea what could be wrong. This is NOT normal for him at all. He's always been very calm.
The Pleco doesn't seem to be showing any signs of being sick or anything, and I've seen the shrimp maybe twice since I transferred them.
Any suggestions or guidance would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much
<Mmm, well, "it" might be that your Shubunkin is simply exuberant in being in a larger world... or the reflection, shape of the system may be confusing... I would hold off on the salt, try to approach the tank slowly, leave some light on near the tank (outside) during nights... and try to be patient. Bob Fenner>

Lionhead 'Moldy Fungus' 6/30/10
Our Lionhead is approx 4 years old, he is brown and approx 3 inches long.
Today we noticed that on his 'cap' or 'hood' on his head he has patches of what look like mold or a fungus.
<Yes, very common when water conditions are poor. Essentially this is a mixture of mucous and quite possibly some bacteria and fungi as well. All fish secrete an extra thick layer of mucous when they are stressed. The idea is that the mucous becomes an extra barrier between themselves and whatever is toxic in the water. Because these fish are dark, the mucous is more obvious than it is on most other types of Goldfish. So when you see these patches, it is an early-warning sign that something is very wrong with your aquarium.>
I cannot find any advice as to what this might be on the internet - do you have any ideas of cause and treatment for this?
<In itself it isn't a disease but a symptom. Check the environment. At minimum, check nitrite level and the pH. If the nitrite is something above zero, and the pH is below 7.0, then either of those could be the problem.
How long it will be before things turn from stressful to lethal depends upon how big your aquarium is. As with any other healthcare issue there's a genetic component too, some fish responding to poor environment more quickly than others, so simply because one shows the symptoms but the others don't doesn't mean everything is fine.>
He lives with 1 other Lionhead of the same age (an orange one). The tank is 15 gallon/57 litres
<Far too small for adult Goldfish; this aquarium needs to be at least twice this size. In short, the tank is too small to provide acceptable conditions. As fish grow they produce more and more waste per day, so even if they were fine last week, last month or last year, a point is eventually reached where a small tank can no longer cope. A tipping point. I suspect that point was long ago, but Goldfish being fairly hardy fish didn't exhibit symptoms until recently. It's a sad fact the while Goldfish should live 20+ years, the vast majority don't precisely because people buy them
without doing the least research, and keep them in all sorts of inappropriate containers, such as your 15 gallon tank.>
They have a filter pump and are cleaned every 7 days.
<What do you mean by "cleaned"? The filter media should be rinsed in a bucket of aquarium water once a month. If the filter clogs up in less time than that, it's obviously too small for the fish. Let's remember than Goldfish need MASSIVE filtration since they're big, dirty fish that produce lots of solid waste (faeces, uneaten food) as well as ammonia. Turnover should be something around 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, so for a 30 gallon aquarium that means a 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour.>
I have added some photos, they are not the best quality as I didn't want to use my flash but you can see the 'mold' patches on the head. (Some of the pics look like 2 fish but that is the reflection!)
Thanks for any help
<Do read:
Lack of research on your part, and the resulting poor environmental conditions are almost certainly do blame here. Without prompt attention these fish will do what usually happens when Goldfish are dumped into inappropriate aquaria -- they will die. Cheers, Neale.>

Please ignore my previous message 6/30/10
as I woke up this morning and the fish had died.
Thank you,
<Sorry to hear that. But now you know that your aquarium is not only too small but actively killing off its contents. This is what happens. It's called "carrying capacity" and once exceeded, Nature couldn't care less about your budget or the size of your home, she'll remorselessly kill off everything in the too-small aquarium until there's the right amount of livestock in that aquarium. You can draw your own parallels with regard to humanity and planet Earth! Cheers, Neale.>
Thank you 7/1/10
For your detailed reply,
<Happy to help.>
I think that I looked at the wrong conversion site when telling you about the tank as it is really large for 2 fish (60cm x 30cm x 30cm)
<This is 54 litres; much too small for Goldfish. Honestly. You really do need at least 115 litres for Goldfish.>
I would never keep fish in a too small tank.
<Ah, but you are...>
When I said cleaned once a week I meant the tank water is totally changed
<Yikes! No, don't do this! Change 25% per week.>
and the pump and filter system cleaned.
<Again, don't do this. Clean the filter monthly by rinsing the media gentle in bucket of aquarium water so the silt is washed free. Over-cleaning the filter will remove the bacteria you need for biological filtration. Don't waste time with Zeolite and carbon; what you need is good biological filtration.>
I will take your advice about checking nitrates
<Nitrite, not nitrate. Different things. Nitrite is lethal, nitrate not so much.>
and Ph right away.
<Do please read about fishkeeping generally. You're making some elementary mistakes here, hence the death of your pet fish. Feel free to write back for additional help. Cheers, Neale.>

Ammonia query (Goldie Children Care) 6/21/10
Hello Crew!
<Hello again,>
I've written previously and spoke to Neale about my Calico Ryukin, Pepper (aka- Peppie No Pew). He has what seems to be a swim bladder issue.
<Do read here:
Since then Pep have not improved or gotten worse. He's always been a strong swimmer despite his "balance"- or lack there of. He eats like he's never seen food and occasionally nibble on my finger when I'm cleaning his tank.
That was the update...
I've since found another question to ask.... (I read your site during the slow hours at work and now have read everything that pertains to goldfish and can't figure out a good solution for my specific situation) Here's my next question- You'll have to pardon me if the answer is straight forward and I have not figured it out. I'm new to the hobby. :)
Details First-
I have 3 fancy goldfish in a 20gal. tall planted tank. They are still small (roughly 2"-3 1/2") so I figure I have a little time to plan for my 40gal. long tank.
I am buying parts at a time due to budgeting.
<This is the most expensive way to do things, but I understand things aren't always as easy as we'd like.>
I have an Red Cap Oranda (Candy Cane- mainly just "Cane"), an bright orange Oranda and/or fantail (she's still young I can't tell if she's a cross as of yet) Mandarin (Mandy), and of course Pepper. The twenty gallon system
currently has large smooth gravel, moth balls, driftwood and rocks (from a local lake here in Florida) and a fake cavernous ceramic tree trunk I added to give them something to swim and explore (less boring).
I have two older Aqueon 20 gal. filters for the tank. I also have a BioWheel Penguin 200 ready for the 40gal. and in addition bought a Fluval U2 just in case. (the smaller filters are on the 20gal instead of the BioWheel and Fluval because I recently upgraded from 10gal. to 20gal. and am keeping them running in the 20gal. for safe measure.)
<Often these manufacturers say a filter is for a 20 gallon tank, but don't tell you that assumes the tank is understocked with small fish. I would always recommend buying the filter "one size up" in the range you're looking at.>
I feed them anything from peas, rice, dried bloodworms, Bok Choy, Omega One goldfish formula, Aqueon goldfish pellets, Hikari algae wafers, dried brine shrimp, blanched -whatever green in fridge-,seaweed, frozen omnivore's fish food concoction- every time I find something I think is healthy and give the trio a variety for their diet I buy it.
<All sounds great.>
I feed them once a day around 8 or 9 in the morning. The lighting system is said to be a light for plants (it came with the 20gal. Aqueon aquarium kit) I've held off on buying a better bulb since I will be upgrading soon anyways.
The water in the aquarium is very clear and the fish look perky and clean, shiny scales, swims and eats strongly, fins raised, very inquisitive, and the water has no smell. Their poop is short and kelp green at times, but what concerns me is- sometimes they are also kind of thin and stringy although there are no sign of parasites. I change 25-30% of the water twice a week and vacuum each time. I use treated tap water with a high PH (8.0 if I recall correctly). I would change their water with tap water (which I store in 1 gallon drinking water containers) then refill the containers add Aqua+ treatment (1 ml/gal) and leave it out in the sun untill the next water change (every 2-3days).
<Why out in the sunshine?>
I rinse out the filters and let it sun dry and put an already dried filter in from the previous water change (I switch them for about 6 weeks then throw them out and get new ones) I also add liquid plant food for the plants (Kent freshwater brand 1ml/gal).
<Likely unnecessary if the plants are growing slowly/not at all. Some of those plants don't look like aquatic plants anyway. Google "Dracaena" for example -- a commonly sold non-aquatic that dies in, and thus pollutes, many beginner's aquaria.>
I have in the other filter a couple of bags of ammonia absorbers that I switch off and throw out every month ....am I forgetting any details that might help.....hm.....OH! the temperature is a constant 76 degrees F and they are away from a window (I know it should be cooler however here in Florida......yeah....)
<Not a problem for Goldfish.>
Sorry for being "long winded" I'm trying not to miss any details. Anyway, I am doing all that I can/know in the 20gal. tank at the moment to keep the ammonia level down but it is always at least .25mm no matter what I do.
<Does tap water measure ammonia 0.25 mg/l before it's added to the tank? If it does, then you likely have either ammonia or chloramine in your tap water. No big deal. Use water conditioner that removes both of these, and
ignore the any ammonia readings 0.25 mg/l or less. Only if the ammonia goes above that of dechlorinated tap water do you need to worry. So if the tap water has zero ammonia, but the water in the aquarium is 0.25 mg/l, then
yes, you have a problem. Overfeeding, under-filtering, bad filter maintenance, or too many fish. Perhaps some combination.>
I test with the liquid API Master Freshwater test kit. The color chart is difficult to read since the color always indicates the water is between .25mm and 0 (light green and yellow) I have to really strain my eyes to read, but assume it's a .25mm reading just to be safe. Nitrate reads .2mm and Nitrite is 0.
<That nitrite is zero is a good sign.>
the ammonia is the only thing I'm constantly battling with. Like I said the fish "look" healthy and are active, however I want to be safe. I don't want any long term damage to their gills. The tank is cycled. I am wondering if this is a classic clutter case. I don't over feed (they are fasted once a week and feeding(s) are once a day)...or at least I try not to. I will try to attach a picture of the tank so you can see the aquarium. I'm looking for anything less than obvious that I'm missing here. should I do more water changes?
<25-50% weekly should be ample.>
Would it mess up their bio-filter?
<In itself, no, you can do more water changes if you want. But I don't think justified in this instance.>
Should I wait and see if the bio-filter and can break down the ammonia more considering it is a newer tank?
<Possibly, but see above.>
(the fish wasn't in when it was cycling and I added a good amount of old media from the 10gal. tank) I want to keep away from using too much chemicals....so can I add something different from the ammonia absorbers I'm using? (gravel looking chips of a sand color is a mesh bag) May be take out one Aqueon filter and put in either the Fluval or the BioWheel? (the turnover rate is a bit high for the 20gal. though...) Is the PH a bit high?
<It is fine.>
Oh and I was wondering if there's anyway I can add a cooler that doesn't involve huge industrial sized machines that's bigger than the tank? :)))
<Make sure the tank isn't in direct sunlight. Also, you can open the hood and place a fan to blow air across the top. That will increase evaporation, cooling the water. Or, you can freeze some water in a Tupperware, and when
solid, float the Tupperware in the tank. That'll cool the water down. Don't go crazy with this though or you'll chill the fish! A one-litre Tupperware should be ample for a 20 gallon tank.>
Thank You so very much for looking over my e-mail. As always best regards to everyone and thank you for a good solid info. source.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care) 6/21/10
Thank you Neale! The ammonia reading at .25 is from the aquarium not tap.
<If the ammonia reading of your tap water after adding water conditioner is zero, but the ammonia reading of your aquarium is not zero, then you have a problem.>
Are the moth balls ok for the aquarium?
<Moss balls you mean? Yes, they're fine.>
I had a suspicious feeling about one of the plants after reading your "out of my tank" article however I wasn't sure. Is the stringy poop something of concern if the are healthy?
<If the fish are fine, I wouldn't worry unduly.>
Thank you do much Ashton
for the reply!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care), bier payments 6/23/10
Hello again Neale.
Thank you again for you prompt response.
<No problem.>
I tested my water yesterday after switching out their filters and came across some peculiar findings...The water in the aquarium is in adequate conditions (Nitrate 0.2, Nitrite 0, and ammonia 0).
However you called my attention to testing my tap water and thus I did.
The ammonia level in my tap read to be 2.0 ppm. Is this common?
<Far from it, but do remember, aquarium ammonia test kits can, and often do, give misleading results. You may indeed have ammonia in your tap water.
But you might not. Chloramine will register as "ammonia" on an ammonia test kit. So too will chloramine that's been safely neutralised by water conditioner. So, the thing to do is to use a water conditioner that neutralises ammonia AND chloramine. You can then ignore the tap water reading! So long as the aquarium level is zero and the nitrite level is zero, you're fine! This is one reason I recommend aquarists use nitrite test kits rather than ammonia test kits -- much less scope for misunderstanding, and except for the first week or two in an aquarium's life, in the filter isn't working properly, you should get both ammonia and nitrite levels that aren't zero, so they're both fair indicators of
It grossed me out quite a bit. To answer you previous questions about the water being left outside in the sun, I heard somewhere that by leaving the water outside it will help remove chlorine and the like.
<Not as such. Letting water stand will allow chlorine to "evaporate" but not ammonia or chloramine or copper, so generally doing this pointless.
Much better to use a good general-purpose water conditioner.>
Also sorry for the "ashton" thing it was a spell check with me and my phone.
Thank You again!
(sorry if I'm abusing my privileges here with the Q&A)
<There's a tip jar on the front page. Feel free to buy me a beer! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ammonia query (Goldie Children Care) 6/23/10
Well what part of the green planet are you on and what type of currency?
<I'm in the English countryside at the moment, but on the internet, it's all good! So feel free to use whatever's local to you.>
What is the cost of a twelve pack of your favorite refreshment? I'll get right on it asap. The least I can do.
<We're happy to help. The beer's just a bonus!>
cheers, dawn
<Likewise, cheers and thanks, Neale.>

pH crash and unhappy fish 6/23/10
Good afternoon:
I live in Vancouver and have been trying to get my tanks to cycle for months now. The city water is basically RO (pH is 7.0 and KH and GH are zero).
I thought I had it figured out when I realized that nitrifying bacteria need KH to help them develop.... so I used Victoria/Malawi salts to bring the KH up to 100 and Epsom to bring the GH up to 150.
However, because my tanks aren't cycled the higher pH was causing my goldfish to be more sensitive to any ammonia present in the tank (despite very frequent water changes there is some ammonia present- especially
before I do a water exchange).
<Ah yes, a conundrum indeed. The bottom line though is that poor water quality kills fish quickly, so regular water changes are essential until the filter is mature. Tweaking the water chemistry won't really fix things.>
I decided to reduce the amount of Malawi salts that I was adding when I found my two smallest fish on the bottom of the tank, fins clamped (and one with what looked like bleeding gills).
I am afraid that I may have reduced the pH too rapidly- my two smaller fish (in their 36 gallon tank) are happy now and are fine.
<Changes to water chemistry should always be done slowly, incrementally, even if for the "better".>
My large Oranda (in a separate 50 gallon tank) is acting very strangely- darting around the tank very quickly and nervously when I approach. The water was at a pH of 7.6 and I reduced it to 7.2 over two days. Looking at letters from other people on your site his behaviour is in keeping with too great of a pH change.
<May be a reaction to low pH (acidosis) or sensitivity to ammonia, both of which can make fish nervous.>
What is the best course of action- should I leave the pH as is and let him adjust or should I raise it up a bit (slowly- say over a day) to target 7.4?
<I would certainly make sure to use about one-half the dose of Rift Valley salt mix in this aquarium, and if that means doing a series of 25% water changes daily to raise the pH and hardness, so be it. I'd also add maybe a
teaspoon per gallon of the marine salt mix on top of what's already being added. Goldfish tolerate salt well and salt has a mild effect that reduces the toxicity of nitrite, so does help fish survive the cycling process.
Regardless, I'd be planning on 25% water changes every 2-3 days for the next four to six weeks until the filter is mature. If the filter has been running for more than six weeks and still isn't mature, then you have some other problem. Check the filter is adequate and configured properly, that it's large enough for the fish, that the media are being cleaned the right way, that you aren't overfeeding, and so on.>
Will he calm down once he has adjusted or have I damaged his CNS?
<He will likely calm down once situation returns to normal.>
He is eating and his fins are up- he is not bottom sitting- but I am afraid he will harm himself (or jump out of the tank) if he is startled. I have his light out and am not going near the tank so I don't stress him further.
He is normally quite friendly and likes to splash me or nibble my hand when I'm cleaning his tank: I feel terrible to have caused him distress.
Thank you for your help- and I like the new forum!!
<Glad to hear it.>
Gina de Almeida
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish 6/25/10

Hello Neale:
Indeed, I have been trying to cycle my 36 gallon tank since December.
I also have a 55 gallon tank that I recently set up as a friend had a huge Oranda in an uncycled 10 gallon tank and could no longer care for her fish. My 36 ga. has two small telescope Ryukins in it and I can easily keep the ammonia levels down for them with small, frequent water changes.
<If this tank has been running for several months, then you shouldn't record any ammonia at all. At least, not from the fish. Do check there isn't ammonia or chloramine in your tap water, since these will give you false positive readings. Treat your tap water for chloramine and ammonia.>
The 55 gallon tank, however, is proving to be a huge challenge as the large fish produces a larger amount of ammonia: once-daily water changes aren't close to enough.
I am having to do two changes which really eats up a vast amount of my day (I am in med school and have oodles classes followed by oodles of homework so it's getting to be a lot of work).
I am positive that my filtration is adequate- I have an Eheim Pro 3 filter on both tanks- a 2071 on the 36 gallon and a 2073 on the 55 gallon (both are rated for tanks over 100 gallons).
<Yes, both should be adequate. Make sure you are using the right media. Ceramic noodles or sponges are the best. Don't waste filter space with Zeolite or carbon. Rinse media every 1-2 months in buckets of aquarium water.>
On the 55 gallon I also have a hanging waterfall filter which is rated for a 70 gallon tank. I squeeze out the prefilters in tank water about once a month. Both tanks have UV sterilizers. Both tanks have bubblers and powerheads to agitate the water surface.
<All sounds fine.>
I could possibly be overfeeding the Oranda- he is so much larger than my other fish that I am not sure how much he should eat.
<Very little. Here's my recommendation: feed him just Elodea (cheap pondweed) all but once a week, and on Sunday give him a few low-protein flakes or pellets, such as Koi pellets or wheat germ pellets. That's all.
See what happens after a month of that.>
While my other fish love homemade gel food, he does not. He hates all vegetables: the only fresh food he will eat is kiwi fruit. He won't touch flakes or algae strips so he mostly gets sinking pellets and frozen Spirulina brine shrimp. He spits everything else I have tried to feed him out and it makes a huge mess.
<Yes, they're messy fish. But if he's hungry, he WILL eat pondweed. Otherwise, don't feed him. Remember, in the wild Goldfish can go without food for months while hibernating. We feed them far more in captivity than they need.>
I do vacuum up any rejected food to avoid spoilage but this may not be helping the ammonia levels.
I am getting desperate to cycle a tank- ANY tank. The water here is just like using bottled water and I don't know how to correct the situation. I am moving in two and a half months and I tested the water there: it is goldfish-friendly but I don't want to be moving the fish into an uncycled tank there as the pH is 7.8.
<Goldfish like high pH levels -- the ideal is between 7.5 and 8.>
I have set up my old 20 gallon tank as a trial tank to see if I can get it to cycle- I filled it with discard water from a tank cleaning and cranked up the KH to 180 to encourage the nitrifying bacteria to grow (I read a couple of really interesting articles that said that the nitrifying bacteria need a KH of at least 100 to establish- is this correct? They
certainly don't like a pH of 7.0 and a KH of zero!!)
I add powdered fish flakes every couple of days. So far I'm not seeing any nitrates but I don't think the ammonia has spiked yet. Correct me if I am wrong but in a fishless cycling I read that I should start seeing nitrates after an ammonia spike of about three.
<Well, you should see ammonia spike at some level after about a week or so, but the precise amount varies. The diagrams you see in aquarium books are very generalized, so don't hold too much faith in the numbers you see on
the X and Y axes!>
I have a reading of one, currently. I have heard that you can use a pure ammonia cleaning product to cycle a fishless tank but such a product is not available where I live.
<And unnecessary anyway; you have ample ammonia in this system for the bacteria. Indeed, I'm pretty certain you have the nitrifying bacteria already. The question is why they're unable to cope with what your fish is producing.>
My plan is to cycle the 20 gallon here in Vancouver then use the substrate and filter from this tank to set up a new tank at my new location (about 6 weeks before the actual move). That way I can move the fish into a (hopefully) cycled tank... I'm growing short of time and I am worried. Is there something glaringly obvious that I am not doing that I should be (or vice versa)?
<Likely overfeeding in this case, though "false positives" may be an issue too.>
I don't over clean the tanks, I use Prime to condition the water but don't use any other products except for the salts and now a bit of marine salts as you have suggested.
<Yes, a little salt helps take the edge off nitrite, though I'm not sure about ammonia.>
I can play with the fishless tank if there is anything that you can suggest I try to get it to cycle I'd be immensely grateful!!
Kind regards:
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish 6/25/10
Thanks Neale:
Just a quick update as it is very late here and I have gotten up to check the poor Oranda. He is very stressed and is sitting on the bottom of the tank (dorsal fin is upright).
He is calm until I try to approach him, then he starts to swim about rapidly and begins to pooch out his mouth and "gasp": not at the surface, like he is gasping for air, but at mid-tank level.
<Possibly, or else begging for food.>
He calms down when left alone so I staying away. He did not eat tonight and did not beg like he normally does. He lost a scale yesterday (and one about three weeks ago)- I know this is related to the water problems I have been having but I actually can't find much information on your site about scale loss.
<Isn't really a problem. Fish lose scales all the time, and grow them back. Unless a fish loses lots of scales at once, or there are signs of secondary infection, this is not alarming at all.>
It doesn't seem to be that common so I am really getting worried.
<Don't be.>
He was acting normally a few days ago.
Regarding the tank cycling- I am sure the occupied tanks are not cycled:
the local water is treated with chloramine, so I use Prime to neutralize.
There is no ammonia in the system at all- the water that comes out of the tap is just like RO (and may indeed be RO). They use the chloramine in the final stage of processing, to prevent contamination from bacteria in the pipes but it is otherwise pure.
<Hmm... "pure" means different things to different people.>
After writing the letter below, I tested my 20 gallon fishless tank and was really pleased to see that I have a reading of 10 for nitrates. I would move the Oranda but it is far too much of a parameter change from the tank he is in right now (and he is too stressed to be approached). His KH and pH are currently 39 and 7.5 respectively and the cycling tank is 143.2 and 8.0. I believe the KH of zero in the local water has been preventing my tank from cycling, which I must say is totally supported by the fact that my 20 gallon seems to have cycled once I raised the pH and KH with the Victoria/Malawi salts.
<I assume that the 39 and 143.2 are mg/l calcium carbonate? Putting aside questions of accuracy to fractions of a milligram per litre -- impossible with generic test kits -- it's often easiest to convert mg/l in degrees KH (divide by 17.9). Anything below about 4 or 5 degrees KH is likely to experience unstable pH levels, and anything above will be firmly basic in pH and won't experience much variation at all.>
Here is my dilemma and what has caused this entire mess: I was trying to slowly raise the pH and KH in the occupied tanks so that they could cycle.
Since a rise in pH means that the fish are less tolerant to ammonia, they were all showing stress- the two smallest fish were very ill (one had bleeding gills) and the large Oranda began to swim very rapidly and nervously about the tank.
<I see your problem. In practise, I'd be more concerned about water quality than water chemistry, since the former is usually more imminently deadly.>
Because they were now so sensitive to smaller amounts of ammonia, I needed to do frequent water changes... but since I am using Malawi salts to raise the pH/KH is was really difficult to ensure that the water I was adding to the tanks with every water change had the same levels and I definitely did not want to fluctuate the pH and KH every time I changed water. Argh!!!
So I began to reduce the amount of Malawi salts that I was adding to the water. I actually did this quite slowly, over a couple of days and the two small fish recovered immediately. I went from a pH and KH of 7.8/109 to a ph/KH of 7.5/53.7 over two days and today the test read 7.5/39. The Oranda just seems to be getting worse, however.
<Do understand that trying to feed fish when you have non-zero ammonia levels is self-defeating and unnecessary. Fish are not endotherms; they do not require a constant supply of meals to maintain homeostasis. If you switch off the heater (if you use one) and let the tank cool down, their food requirements will be reduced still further. Goldfish can easily go by for a few weeks without food, and that will mean the filter can process the lower quantity of ammonia even if not fully matured.>
He was eating (albeit reluctantly) two days ago but showed no interest in a snack earlier in the evening. I will stop feeding him from now on and will introduce Elodea- it is his lack of interest in food that is really frightening me!! My little telescope who had the bleeding gills still raced to the top of the tank at feeding time, and this Oranda is definitely the "gourmand" of the group.
<As I say, don't feed beyond adding some floating plants like Elodea.>
The less I have to mess with the water, the better, I figure.
<True, but changing the water chemistry will NOT have a very great impact on biological filtration, and in fact the more basic and alkaline the water, the faster filter bacteria multiply. Nitrifying bacteria dislike soft and acidic water conditions.>
I can keep the water parameters stable if I don't have to try to buffer up the water and try to maintain the correct levels. I think that the Oranda should be able to tolerate a pH of 7 and a KH of zero for a couple more months until I return home (the tap water there tests at pH 7.8, KH 150 and GH 100). I know this means that the tanks won't cycle and I will have to do frequent water changes but my messing with the water chemistry has been such a disaster that I don't want to continue.
<I understand your worries, but I think you're wrong here. I'm confused about your tap water readings listed here. For what it's worth, a general hardness of 100 mg/l and carbonate hardness of 150 mg/l should be fine for Goldfish. But earlier on you said the carbonate hardness was 0...?>
I thoroughly enjoyed your article (I'm sorry, it's 3:30 am and I can't recall the title) in which you suggested that one should consider the parameters of the local water BEFORE purchasing fish. I wish I had read this before, as Vancouver water is NOT compatible with hard-water species.
<If the water has a general hardness of 100 mg/l and carbonate hardness of 150 mg/l, that's pretty middling and should suit a wide range of fish.>
The fish store where I purchased my telescopes actually told me that it was perfectly fine to purchase a tank and fish at the same time and told me to just pop them right into the tap water.
<Indeed, perhaps true.>
I just want healthy fish. I hope my poor Oranda will recover. I am sorry for this very long letter but I am terrified for the fish- I should never have tried to mess with the water chemistry with a fish in the tank.
<It is important you know what sort of water you have to begin with, but hardening water, if needs be, is cheap, easy, and shouldn't cause any problems at all. Softening water is a whole other kettle of fish.>
Many thanks:
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH crash and unhappy fish 6/26/10

Hi Neale:
Very sorry to bother you again but the Oranda is STILL not eating or showing any interest in food (this really alarms me more than anything as he normally begs every time I walk past the tank).
<As stated several times already, don't feed him while water quality isn't good.>
He is hiding in his measuring cup, dorsal fin is still upright. On the bright side, since I reduced the pH/KH he is no longer darting frantically about though he is still very lethargic.
<Don't change the pH or hardness to elicit "better" behaviour; get the pH and hardness where they NEED to be, and the fish will adapt. Your aim is to provide the right conditions.>
Other than that and having lost a couple scales, nothing else looks unusual (I should mention that when I got him he already had a couple scales missing- it looks like he has perhaps lost 5 or 6 scales in total and they are all from one side- I read that fish can lose scales if they have fish TB but I don't think this is the problem- I'm sure it is my water troubles causing all of this).
<Not Fish TB; do read about Mycobacteria infections at WWM before getting bogged down in this morass of misdiagnoses.>
I have very slowly brought the water chemistry back toward what is coming out of the tap as my attempts to change the chemistry are what triggered the troubles. Tap water tests are ammonia zero, nitrites zero, nitrates zero, pH 7.0, KH zero, GH zero.
<The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate values are fine. The pH, carbonate hardness and general hardness are too low. Dangerously so.>
The Oranda tank is showing ammonia 25, nitrites zero, nitrates zero, pH 7.4/7.5, KH 35.8 (2 degrees), GH 107.4 (6 degrees)
<So obviously the ammonia is getting in via food and protein metabolism, not tap water. The carbonate hardness is still too low. Do read the article you've been directed to, UNDERSTAND what you're trying to achieve, and set
about creating those conditions. As stated multiple times, given the tap water you have, about a half-dose of the Rift Valley salt mix should create good water chemistry values.>
I am not sure if the ammonia is correct- if I am getting false positives because I'm adding a bit of salt,
<Adding Epsom salt, baking soda and marine salt mix will NOT introduce ammonia.>
how can I get a true reading?
<You ARE getting a true reading. If the tap water has zero ammonia, but the aquarium has a non-zero value of ammonia, the ONLY source of ammonia is the fish.>
I've been looking at meters (I just bought a pH meter but it is not quite set up yet- the above readings are from my API master test kit).
<Not necessary.>
Is there a meter that measures ammonia accurately?
<I think you're measuring your ammonia levels just fine.>
Just to be safe I will do a small change this morning to get ammonia to zero- I'm trying very hard to keep it at zero (especially since I read on WWM that high ammonia and poor water quality are linked to HITH) but it does creep up between changes.
<Hole in the Head isn't an issue with Goldfish. Finrot, on the other hand, is.>
I wanted to ask your advice on this: I have two ideas and am not sure which is best. I am moving in two months and the tap water back home is perfect for GF so I just need to keep them happy and healthy for two more months.
I have a the 20 gallon tank which is beginning to cycle. The 20 is way to small for this big fish, but here is my plan number one:
I was thinking I could purchase another 50 gallon tank and set it up here in Vancouver, get the chemistry right for nitrifying bacteria and then seed the tank with media from the cycling tank THEN transfer the fish.
<Overkill. Just lay off feeding this fish, provide the right water chemistry by adding necessary Rift Valley salt mix, and wait for the cycling process to complete.>
I suspect it won't take more than a couple of weeks at best to cycle the larger tank as I put several filter sponges and a couple bags of ceramic media in the water before I started to experiment with the water chemistry- there should be some bacterial colonies established there by now (as well as in the filter). I know if I just transfer this seeded media over to the big tank it will just die off because of my low KH... but if I can get a large tank ready for the fish I can slowly raise his current KH and pH to closely match the cycled tank then move him over. The cons of this plan for me is that I will have to make sure that the water I use for my water changes is perfectly matched to the pH/KH of the cycled tank so that I don't disrupt the bacterial colonies. Then again, I shouldn't have to deal with daily water changes...
My second plan was to just keep the fish in water that most closely resembles the tap conditions while I am here as this is easiest for me and avoids accidental fluctuations in pH and KH from my meddling with the water chemistry. I would purchase said 50 gallon tank, drive home, set up the tank and seed it with media from the cycled tank so that when I move in approximately two months, I will be moving the Oranda into the 50 gallon cycled tank and the 2 smaller fish could move temporarily into the cycled 20 gallon tank until the 50 gallon in which the Oranda currently resides is cycled for them. I want the fish to be in a stable environment- I know this means frequent water changes (the smaller fish have been living happily in these water parameters since December and I know it is better to have the fish in less-than ideal parameters that it is to have frequent fluctuations).
Either way I had planned to purchase a second 50 gallon tank as the 36 gallon where my young telescopes reside is too deep for them and I wanted to get them something more appropriate.
Thank you so much for taking time to read my letter (which has turned into a veritable tome)...
Gina de Almeida
<Making this much to much work. Do understand what the problems are.
Firstly, you need the right water chemistry for Goldfish. Do that by adding the right amount of Rift Valley salt mix. Secondly, reduce food input while the tank is cycling. If you're tank is more than a month old and you're still detecting ammonia, and you know tap water is ammonia-free, then somehow you're overwhelming the ability of your filter to remove ammonia produced by the fish. That being the case, minimise feeding for now, and see what happens. Cheers, Neale.>

11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank, env... 6/2/10
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited swimming or movement.
Her top fin seems droopy. She makes an effort to swim when I come over to her tank, and is trying to eat, but it seems like she is spitting the food out or not able to swallow it. I feed her floating pellets, which she's been eating for the last 8 years. She is in a 10-gallon tank with a Whisper filtration system and live plants.
<10 gallons is too little.>
I do not usually change the tank water -
<You must! 25% weekly.>
I have actually never tested the water before today - everything tested normal except for the Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm (very unsafe). I am making a partial water changes to reduce this level.
<200 ppm nitrite (with an "I") is deadly, so I doubt you have this. But you may have a 200 ppm nitrate (with an "a") level, and that is certainly highly toxic if not immediately deadly.>
Would you suspect that this Nitrate level could be the culprit for her behavior?
She does not seem to be tipsy,
so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or what.
<"What". You're keeping this fish very, VERY BADLY, and that's finally killing her. She's not that old -- Goldfish live 30+ years -- and the fact she's survived 11 years is more about how tough these fish are than your fishkeeping skills (which are, to be honest, minimal).>
Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such a long amount of time.
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information you might be able to provide.
<It's kind of you to say such things, but I'm concerned you've so far not managed to find the gold in our mine. Do please start reading here:
-Sarah M
<Cheers, Neale.>

11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank, ScottT's go 6/2/10
< Hi Sarah>
Rhonda, my 11-year-old Goldfish, has been lying on her belly on the bottom of her tank for the last 3 days, with very limited swimming or movement. Her top fin seems droopy.
<I've had this happen before also. Not to worry, I think it is fixable.>
She makes an effort to swim when I come over to her tank, and is trying to eat, but it seems like she is spitting the food out or not able to swallow it. I feed her floating pellets, which she's been eating for the last 8 years. She is in a 10-gallon tank with a Whisper filtration system and live plants. I do not usually change the tank water - I have actually never tested the water before today - everything tested normal except for the Nitrite level, which was at 200ppm (very unsafe). I am making a partial water changes to reduce this level.
<Great idea with the water changes. Change a few gallons a day until the nitrites go away. Maybe add a chemical product to detoxify the nitrites quickly today too. It wouldn't be bad to make a once a week water change routine.>
Would you suspect that this Nitrate <nitrite?> level could be the culprit for her behavior? She does not seem to be tipsy, so I don't know if this is a swim bladder problem or what. Occasionally she has rested on the bottom of the tank for short amounts of time in the past, but she has never done this for such a long amount of time.
<In my experience this is completely water quality related. I had an overstocked tank in which half of the fish exhibited that exact behavior.
Once I installed a plant filter and increased my water changes, they all started floating again. A droopy dorsal fin is a sign that the fish isn't too happy. High nitrites, pH might be low, and a number of things that are hard to test for. If you do even a 10% change weekly, Rhonda will be much happier.>
Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you for volunteering your time for our aquatic friends - this website is a goldmine of information! I am grateful for any information you might be able to provide.
-Sarah M
<Hope this was helpful, Scott T.>

Re: 11-year-old Goldfish, Laying on Bottom of Tank 6/2/10
Hi Scott and Neale!
Thank you both so much for your expert advice, and lightning-fast response.
I did intend to write "nitrates", as you noted - I apologize for my confusion. I have made about a 15% water change thus far and Rhonda appears so much happier already - she's swimming and eating like normal, with a little more zest than usual!
She is still resting on the bottom of the tank, but only occasionally - the improvement in her behavior is substantial.
I forgot to mention that I normally add Aquasafe and Stress Coat water conditioners when I do change the water - I have been using these products for about 8 years. Do you feel these are good products?
<Dechlorinator is certainly essential with every water change. Stress Coat falls into the "meh" category to be honest; it's useful when shipping/handling fish, but otherwise redundant. Neither produce removes the need for an adequate aquarium and regular water changes.>
I did read up on the Goldfish 101 information page, and will definitely be testing and changing her water regularly from now on. I had (very incorrectly) assumed that oxygen was the only significant concern, and that having a filter and live plants would take care of it all.
<Not the case at all. Yes, you can create an ecosystem where the plants balance the fish, but for that to work you need 100s of gallons, a couple of inches of small minnows, and intense sunlight. Seriously. Any attempt to balance fish and plants in a home aquarium just won't work. It's been done in labs, and the ratio of animal to plant life required is extremely different to what you've got in your mind.>
I am including a couple of just-taken pictures of Rhonda.
<She looks cute. Probably needs company though; Goldfish are gregarious animals and quite "intelligent" by fish standards.>
Do you think she does need a larger tank?
She is about 4.5 in. / 11 cm., head-to-tail.
<For an 11-year-old fish she's really very small, and poor conditions are likely to blame. In any case, Goldfish shouldn't be in anything less than 30 gallons/110 litres for two adults. Can they survive in small tanks?
Sure, some of them do, but the mortality rate is high. The sad fact is the most Goldfish end up dead within a few months, and small aquaria are very largely to blame.>
Thank you very much!
<My pleasure.>
-Sarah M
<Cheers, Neale.>

Grossly stunted, or more euphemistically, "Extremely Bonsai'd"... RMF

Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the usual story... 5/28/2010
I have a comet goldfish that is about 2.5 inches long.
<Will get much bigger than that, if kept properly. Comets are really pond fish, and even in an aquarium should top 6 inches/15 cm within a couple of years, and potentially reach 8 inches/20 cm or more.>
I have him alone in a 10 gallon tank with no filter
<Not good enough; this is precisely why he's sick.>
but I do change 50% of his water 1-3 times a week and test it for nitrates and ammonia regularly.
<And? What are the results from these tests? Remember, anything above 0 nitrite and 0 ammonia will stress him. Nitrate is largely unimportant.>
He is about 1.5 years old and started having problems when we upgraded to a bigger tank for him and his buddies about 2 months ago.
<The problems weren't caused by the bigger tank, that's for certain.>
It all started with Pop Eye, I learned I was over feeding
<Overfeeding doesn't cause the damage, that's a myth. Overfeeding swamps the filter with nitrogen, and water quality plummets. In a reasonably large, adequately filtered aquarium overfeeding is unlikely to cause problems because the filter should be able to handle a little extra food.
But if someone keeps a fish in a tank that's too small and doesn't have a filter, then even with normal rations there'll be ammonia in the water, and if you overfeed, that ammonia level quickly reaches dangerous levels.>
and secluded him to this 10 gallon tank around his 2nd week of having it. I treated with Maracyn 2 and he seemed to get better,
<Temporary, at best. Environmental problems aren't cured with drugs any more than fat people lose weight by switching to Diet Coke.>
he went back in the community tank. He got Pop Eye again so I sequestered him again and treated him then he seemed better so back in the tank he went.
Then a week later I noticed his fins were all clamped together.
<Spotting the pattern yet...?>
Treated him for a week with Maracyn, seemed better, all but the top fin were totally open, back in the tank he goes. Two weeks later I see this weird round white circle on his side and he looks like he is getting white
slimy stuff on his side.
Now I decided to just keep him in the 10 gallon tank for a few months until he is totally healthy so I can stop setting up and taking apart a tank. I treat him with Maracyn, he gets better and his top fin opens up beautifully at the exact same time as his back fin develops tail rot.
<It's environmental; fish his living conditions, then treat the symptoms, and he'll stay healthy.>
At this point I really don't want to spend any more money
so I let it go for 2 days then I just cave and start treating him with Maracyn again. So now his tail is very short , about .75 inch and the end has grown dark brown, I've been treating him for 3 days, tonight he gets
his 4th dose.
I'm leaving to go out of town for a week in 4 days and I really don't know what else I can do to get him healthy.
<Read what these fish need, and then keep them properly. You can't keep Goldfish in small, unfiltered bowls and tanks. Never could. Just because you see them in bowls on TV doesn't mean that works, any more than Superman can fly just because he does in the movies. Goldfish are animals and animals have requirements.>
I do use aquarium salt, 1tbs per 5 gal
and I do 5 gal water changes so I don't mess up the levels.
<The levels were messed up a long time ago! Try and understand what you're doing, rather than flailing about. Remember the nitrogen cycle? You presumably learned about in school, in biology class. Certainly taught to everyone here in England. Anyway, nitrogenous wastes come out of the fish, and have to be processed. If they're not, the ammonia sits in the water, causing all sorts of harm. Think about how you manage that ammonia -- FILTRATION!>
I also feed him a little once a day but will tell the person taking care of him to only feed him every other day to keep waste down. Aside from doing a water change right before I leave is there anything else I can do? Is the tips of his tail getting darker a good or bad thing?
<Likely ammonia burns, and definitely not good.>
Is there hope or am I fighting a loosing battle?
<If it is a losing battle, it is so because you chose not to keep this fish properly. Remember how Hitler lost the Second World War because he decided to invade Russia? Lack of understanding and planning cost him dearly.
That's where we are here. Any aquarium book would have told you Goldfish need large tanks and they need filters.>
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish, tiny unfiltered tank, the usual story...
Hi again,
When I test his water the levels all come back at 0.
<What levels? The pH should be between 7 and 8, not zero.>
The main fish tank (20 gal with 5 other goldfish)
<Insanely overstocked.>
has filter and the water tests fine, I have taken it to pet shops and tested it myself.
<Might well be fine while they're small, but honestly, I can't believe it's "fine" if these are big fish. Been at this game for far too many years...>
I'm just hesitant to pick up a filter for the 10 gallon tank he is in
because it should be temporary.
<A bad plan.>
Ideally he will go back into the main tank. I was told that I could avoid getting a filter as long as I do partial water changes every couple of days.
<Well, perhaps, for a while. But clearly he's ill, so this obviously isn't working, is it? What more can I say...>
I have actually taken samples of his water into pet shops and been told that the ammonia and nitrite are at 0. At this point is it better to put him in the main tank with the filter or keep him separate and do the regular partial water changes?
<It's the lesser of two evils, yes.>
Also is 10 gallons really to small of a hospital tank for a 2.5 inch goldfish?
<Yes. Because people do this is precisely why most Goldfish die within a year of purchase. I don't have stock in companies that make aquaria! I'm telling you the truth, as opposed to what you want to hear.>
The idea is to eventually move them all to a 125 gallon tank by the end of the year.
<Now that's more like it! But even a 55 gallon tank would be fine for 4-5 fancy goldfish.>
Just a side note, these are my boyfriends fish and he had no idea what they needed or how big they would get when he got them a year ago.
<Hence the need to read a book before doing anything else.>
It wasn't till he moved in and I talked him into upgrading the tank because they looked crowded and the subsequent health problems occurred that I read up on it and realized what he had gotten us into!
<My pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>

Re Question. Revisiting talked out issues re Goldfish in too small, poor env. world 5/24/10
What is the best way to treat possible fin rot,
<Depends on cause... Read here:
and the linked files above>
it don't look exactly like the photos I have seen, it is a comet goldfish with long tail but has splitting and some blood in the veins
<... this fish has env. issues... too much treatments...>
I guess it is, acts fine and eats and swims well, My water test are good , ph a little high at 8.5-9
<... Way too high>
thanks It is 20 gallon tank
<Way too small>
with two others and I keep the water changes at 1 1/2 gallons every other day and at times go 2 days and then change 2 gallons, I have been doing this for about a month to try to clear one with Popeye, and make sure water
stays safe, good filtration and air, also wondered if I can place another airstone in if it would help keep kill off anaerobic bacteria and if it can add more oxygen due to bioload??
<... no, nonsense>
Will adding another airstone increase already high ph or change water parameters in anyway?
<... We've gone over and over re these induced issues. Read, follow archived and stated advice. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question
what did you mean by this line in answers "<this fish has env. issues... too much treatments...>"
<Let me state this more plainly... You're killing this fish, these goldfishes by having them in too small a volume, too high pH water and exposure to too many "med.s". Is this clear? Try reading WWM re goldfish...
Re: Question... Can't find info. on WWM re... Goldfish!!? 5/24/10

Yea thanks a lot, I am always told to keep reading and that is all I do, I cant find the sites your telling me to look up
<Cathy... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm
scroll down to the Goldfish tray... B>
Re: Question... nonsense
been reading , no help,
it is not saying anywhere what I have been asking you about, only the mails I have sent already and have them in my storage to go over and over on computer, I will call someone to see if they can help me, I have been a nervous wreck with all this, why all of a sudden after 10 years in tank and same water etc, would this be a problem now?
<... limits>

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

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