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FAQs on Goldfish Medications: Salts of Various Kinds


FAQs on Goldfish Medicines: Salt for Treating Bloat, Antibiotics (e.g. Maracyn, Tetracycline), Organophosphates (e.g. Fluke Tabs, Dylox), Anthelminthics (de-wormers),  eSHa, Copper Compounds, Formalin, Malachite Green, Mela & Pima(not)Fix, Metronidazole (Flagyl), Sulfa Drugs, All Others...

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

Related Goldfish Disease FAQs:  Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3Environmental 4, & Goldfish Disease 2, Goldfish Disease 3, Goldfish Disease 4, Goldfish Disease 6, Goldfish Disease 7, Goldfish Disease 8, Goldfish Disease 9, Goldfish Disease 10, Goldfish Disease 11, Goldfish Disease 12, Goldfish Disease 13, Goldfish Disease 14, Goldfish Disease 15, Goldfish Disease 16, Goldfish Disease 17, Goldfish Disease 18, Goldfish Disease 19, Goldfish Disease 20, Goldfish Disease 21, Goldfish Disease 22, Goldfish Health 23, Goldfish Disease 24, Goldfish Health 25, Goldfish Disease 26, Goldfish Disease 27, Goldfish Disease 28, Goldfish Disease 29, Goldfish Disease 30, Goldfish Disease 31, Goldfish Disease 33, Goldfish Disease 34, Goldfish Disease 35, Goldfish Health 36, Goldfish Health 37, Goldfish Health 38, Goldfish Disease 39, Goldfish Disease 40, Goldfish Disease 41, Goldfish Disease 42, Goldfish Disease 43, Goldfish Disease 44, Goldfish Disease 45, Goldfish Disease 46, Goldfish Disease 47, Goldfish Disease 48, Goldfish Disease 49, Goldfish Disease 50, Goldfish Disease 51, & Koi/Pondfish Disease

Chemically, salts are combinations of metals and non-metals. They are very different in their properties and usefulness

Aquarium salt, aka Table, Kosher... sodium chloride is inferior to the mix of salts that are used as synthetic (artificial) marine/seawater are of use as is Epsom Salt (MgSO4, Magnesium Sulfate)

See: Salts (Marine, Table/NaCl, Epsom): Use in Freshwater Aquariums & Ponds by Neale Monks,

Goldfish Disease by "Types", Causes:
Environmental 1, Environmental 2, Environmental 3, Environmental 4Environmental 5,  Environmental ,  (Absolutely the Biggest Category)
Floaty Bloaty Goldfish
Nutritional (Second Largest)
Eye Troubles
Lumps/Bumps/Growths (including idiopathic tumors)
Viral and Bacterial, Fungal Infectious
Parasitic: (Ich, Protozoans, Flukes, Worms, Crustacean/ Anchorworms/Lernaeids, ) Fish Lice (Argulus),
Goldfish Swim Bladder Problems
Anomalous (Misc., Injuries, etc.)

Rift Valley Salt Mix - safe for Pearlscales?    /Neale      5/13/13
I have a two-year old Pearlscale goldfish, about the size of a Macintosh apple, that has had a number of problems, some or perhaps most due to my initial ignorance in providing the correct care (despite my best intentions and doting habits). I have continued to educate myself through your site's FAQs and others to provide the best conditions possible with my present set-up. He is currently alone in a 20-gallon tank (started out in a 10-gallon with an Oranda friend who died after several months) until I can afford his next upgrade, hopefully 40 gallons, and later adding one or two friends if/when he remains without issue for an extended period . Without going into the entire history of Eggbert's various problems, my mistakes and the corrective actions I have taken (upgraded tank size, upgraded filtration with 10x GPH, frequent 50% water changes, daily when problems occur, and two to three times weekly when doing well; vegetarian-based diet, etc), I have a question I hope is simple.
Is the recommended Rift Valley Salt Mix, which contains a small amount of marine salt, safe for Pearlies? My Pearlscale has intermittently had blisters that appear to be filled with clear fluid -- at times one or two small ones, other times sudden outbreaks of multiple larger blisters, which I've read is a common problem for this particular fancy goldfish. One of the stronger theories for the cause of these blisters that I have read is that Pearlscales are more sensitive to salt than other goldfish and may have a more difficult time with osmoregulation. Therefore I never use regular aquarium salt for him anymore should an issue arise, as most fish forums tend to recommend this for stressed or ill fish, among other measures. Would the marine salt be safe for him as part of the Rift Valley recipe, or should I just use the recommended amounts of Epsom salt and baking soda, minus the marine salt?
Thanks very much,
Mary Kay
<In a word, yes, at the concentrations recommended, Rift Valley salt mix, whether home-brew or store-bought, will be perfectly safe with Goldfish.
But if you want, you could leave the salt out altogether and still receive the benefits of buffering the pH and raising the hardness. Cheers, Neale.>
Rift Valley Salt Mix - safe for Pearlscales?   /RMF     5/13/13

I have a two-year old Pearlscale goldfish, about the size of a Macintosh apple, that has had a number of problems, some or perhaps most due to my initial ignorance in providing the correct care (despite my best intentions and doting habits).
<Ahh! Good traits for an aquarist>
 I have continued to educate myself through your site's FAQs and others to provide the best conditions possible with my present set-up. He is currently alone in a 20-gallon tank (started out in a 10-gallon with an Oranda friend who died after several months) until I can afford his next upgrade, hopefully 40 gallons, and later adding one or two friends if/when he remains without issue for an extended period . Without going into the entire history of Eggbert's various problems, my mistakes and the corrective actions I have taken (upgraded tank size, upgraded filtration with 10x GPH, frequent 50% water changes, daily when problems occur, and two to three times weekly when doing well; vegetarian-based diet, etc), I have a question I hope is simple.
<Me too>
Is the recommended Rift Valley Salt Mix, which contains a small amount of marine salt, safe for Pearlies?
<Yes it is>
 My Pearlscale has intermittently had blisters that appear to be filled with clear fluid -- at times one or two small ones, other times sudden outbreaks of multiple larger blisters, which I've read is a common problem for this particular fancy goldfish. One of the stronger theories for the cause of these blisters that I have read is that Pearlscales are more sensitive to salt than other goldfish and may have a more difficult time with osmoregulation.
<A possibility, yes>
Therefore I never use regular aquarium salt for him anymore should an issue arise, as most fish forums tend to recommend this for stressed or ill fish, among other measures. Would the marine salt be safe for him as part of the Rift Valley recipe, or should I just use the recommended amounts of Epsom salt and baking soda, minus the marine salt?
<I would include the marine (synthetic sea) salt>
Thanks very much,
Mary Kay
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins... GF, salt, env....    5/31/11
Hello -
Two gold fish (fancy), one 3", 1", plus one golden apple snail 20 gallon tank, filtered, aerated
<Much too small for Goldfish in the long term.>
KH=3 (was 2)
Ph=7 (was 6.8)
Ammonia=.12 (was.25)
<Dangerous, and the reason your fish are sick.>
Temp=66 degrees
1) The small gold fish has two bloody eyes and streaking, the bigger goldfish has no bloody eyes but mild streaking, started two days ago.
Added some salt and Melafix, started daily water changes yesterday. Added Alkaline buffer when I saw Ph was below 7. Anything else I should be doing?
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
There's a section on what Goldfish prefer in terms of water chemistry, i.e., moderately hard and alkaline.>
2) I'm worried if I add too much salt it will kill the snail? Can a snail handle 1 TSP salt per 5 gallons water?
<Indeed, Apple Snails dislike salt. But you totally misunderstand water chemistry if you're using salt to harden the water.>
3) What would be the ideal long run KH and Ph for this tank?
<See above link; also read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/goldfish101art.htm
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins   5/31/11
Thank you Neale, I will read the links, but to clarify I was adding the salt NOT to change the water chemistry (pH), but because I thought the fish my have a disease.
<Almost certainly do; sounds like Finrot, and needs to be treated accordingly, e.g., with eSHa 2000 or Seachem Paraguard. But Finrot is caused by environmental conditions, and without fixing the housing
problems, the Finrot will keep coming back. Let's be clear here about salt -- aquarium "tonic" salt doesn't cure Finrot. It has some value in treating Whitespot, but that isn't what you have here. Otherwise, salt is more often sold because it's profitable than because it's useful. Goldfish prefer hard, alkaline water chemistry, so the Rift Valley salt mix, used at 50% the quoted dose in that article should provide a cheap, effective fix. A 20 gallon tank is okay for Goldfish up to about, say, 10 cm/4 inches, but above that, you'll quickly see signs of poor health -- lethargy, bloating, gasping at the surface, stunting, Finrot, etc. For two adult Goldfish, a 30 gallon tank is what you want.>
I'll get to the links now.....
<Do add these to your reading list:
Hope they help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins    6/1/11

Thank you, I read the links and they will be helpful for the future.
I have new values, undoubtedly from the water changes:
Nitrite is 0, Ammonia is 0, Ph is 7.2, KH is 3
<Your carbonate hardness is low, and lower than I'd recommend for Goldfish.
Do try using the Rift Valley salt mix, perhaps 25% the dose to begin with, and see what happens.>
The larger goldfish is still doing well, and outside of the mild red streaking in its tale, you would not even give him a second thought. The smaller one (a black moor who has always struggled because one eye is MUCH bigger than the other) seems to be worsening; about 75% of his eyes are filled with blood, was maybe 25% yesterday). Very listless, not eating.
Daughter is upset, but should I euthanize at this point?
<Not if fish is moving about. Do, please, treat for Finrot.>
I don't want to jump the gun if he just looks bad but can still recover.
With that said, good chance to teach her a lesson, no reason for him to suffer a slow death either. Any thoughts? I am leaning toward euthanizing it, which is not easy for her as we have taken many steps to "save him" over the years, but this time feels different unless you think I should overlook the very bloody eyes.
<Do also read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
About 30 drops clove oil per litre of water does the job nicely. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins   6/2/11

Hello Neale
The fish is still with us, got some "Nitrofuracin Green" from the shop yesterday (they thought more septicemia then fin rot),
<Caused by the same bacteria'¦ essentially Finrot is the first stage, and if not treated, it becomes Septicaemia.>
will see how he does with the 10 day course they prescribed. He is in a hospital tank, I wanted to treat the other fish even though much fewer symptoms, but with the snail in there I did not know how the snail would do with the Nitrofuracin so we are
just treating the one.
<Would remove the snail'¦. place in a large container, e.g., a quart jug, or a bucket, until the course of medication is done.>
You mention clove oil.
<For Euthanasia, yes; 30 drops/litre water take from aquarium, immerse the fish, then wait for half an hour.>
What is the clove oil supposed to do, is it different than Melafix?
<Yes! Clove Oil kills the fish when used this way as a sedative overdose.>
I haven't seen the clove oil sold in stores,
<Is also called Eugenol; not sold in pet stores but drugstores, pharmacies, health food shops. Used to treat toothache.>
the tea tree oil is everywhere and from what I have read on your excellent site is only mildly effective.
<Indeed, Melafix is at best a mild antibacterial medication. Bob F. is rather skeptical about it'¦ may cause problems if used without forethought.><<Am MUCH more than skeptical! RMF>>
I have taken your KH point to heart and agree, I have been throwing in shells to try to help, and a cuttlefish bone, hoping to not have to buffer with salts all the time but those attempts have not been working so will try your salt suggestion after the antibiotics.
<Cool. While adding shells and cuttlebones and whatnot will buffer the pH a bit, they do so unpredictably. Much better to add the buffering salt mix to each bucket of water so you know exactly what you've got. You can tweak the amount of Epsom salt and baking soda up or down to change the general and carbonate hardness levels respectively, until you get exactly what you want. For Goldfish, something around 10-15 degrees dH, 5-10 degrees KH would be perfect. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins  6/2/2011

Yikes! I thought you were mentioning the clove oil to fight the infection.
That would have killed the disease AND the host:) Thank you for the clarification and all the help!
<Indeed, sounds a necessary clarification! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bloody eyes, red streaks in fins, GF  6/5/2011

Hi Neale
Well, have held off on the clove oil, the panda moor with the blood eyes (fins look OK now) is about the same (the fins were never that bad compared to the eyes). He is on about his 5 day of the furazalone green multi treatment, and getting 25% water changes every day in 4 gallons of water in a 5 gallon hospital bucket.
A couple more questions if I could:
1) if this treatment will work, should I know in about 10 days or so (they gave me 10 days worth of the powder)
<Should see at least some improvement within that time. After the medications are done, optimise water conditions, do lots of water changes to keep the tank clean, and hope for the best. If needs be, repeat treatment.>
2) In the hospital bucket, he does not have the benefit of the heater that was in the main tank, and the temp in the bucket is 64 degrees. I though I read something on your site about blood clotting being changed by temperature in fancy goldfish, but after skimming through the FAQs I can't refind it. Is the lower temperature in the bucket impeding a recovery/causing a blood problem? It was very shortly after I took out the heater for the summer that he started having problems, but it could be coincidence as well.
<The optimal water temperature for fancy Goldfish is that of a warm room, so about 18-22 C/64-72 F.>
3) Once this ordeal is over I am going to start buffer the water (all values are good except for that pesky KH of 2). Before I do that, I wanted to make sure your buffer powder concoction would not hurt the golden apple snail I have in the tank.
<Will make snail very happy!>
4) Ideally, I would like to try to match future fish to my water and environment where I keep the tank. Any thoughts on good community fish in fresh water of soft water (KH=2) and water at about 64 degrees (I was using the heater to get it to 68 in the winter).
<Oh! Lots! Soft water is ideal for pretty much everything from South America, West Africa and Southeast Asia. At the cool water temperature you propose, then a mix of Peppered Corydoras, Danios, Dwarf Golden Barbs, Red or Black Phantom Tetras, Bloodfins, and/or White Cloud Mountain Minnows (don't keep these with Danios -- they get bullied!).>
Especially if the current patient dies, I will need to get a new friend for the other healthy goldfish and his snail pal.
<But do note that Goldfish prefer hard water, so you wouldn't want to keep them in soft water. Goldfish mix quite well with Peppered Corydoras in reasonably warm, moderately hard water -- 22 C/72 F, 10-20 degrees dH.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Something's Fishy,  GF NH3/NH4OH and Salt/NaCl exposure...   2/8/11
Hello hope everyone is well.
<Fair to... thank you>
I stumbled upon your site via Google while I was attempting a rescue mission. I've been reading and cautiously following relevant advice give through your FAQ pages and I'm ha[[y to say that everything thus far have gone relatively smooth. However, today I'm not so sure...something suspicious is amiss...so here I am asking for individual advice.
Please bear with me, I'm still new at this....
Stats- 3 fancy GF (about 3-5 inches not including tail) in a 20 gal. tank with gravel and plants only.
<Mmm, actually likely overcrowded metabolically>
2 HOB filters- no heater or air stones (filters is for 10 gal. and 20 gal. tanks)
Temp. 74 F
Ammonia was .50 ppm (yikes)
this morning when I tested (after which I did a 50% water change)
Nitrate .5ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
They've been in the same tank for close to 7 months now. They've grown like weeds and have not shown any signs of health issues. I do know that the tank is a bit small and they are growing rapidly and with spring approaching which means the males (if I have any) will be getting a bit frisky so they need their space.
<Are these "really" fancy goldfish? Not frisky at any size they can/will grow to here>
So I recently purchased and set up a 55 gal. tank and it is cycling as we speak.
<Ahh, good!>
( It's been 6 weeks with a handful of water changes and a pitch of food every few days, but ammonia is still around .75ppm and the tank doesn't show any signs of bacteria growing).
<Do move some of the plants and water from the existing system to here>
Realizing that I am not completely "out of the woods" just because they haven't been showing any signs of distress and look very healthy because of their growing size and volume in which they live I've been anxiously awaiting the end of the big tank's cycle. About four days ago while I was doing a routine examination of the fish I notice that on of them have small spots on her tail fins. I immediately thought Ich and did a water change. I waited until today, my day off, to do another water change. (I usually do a 35-50% water change every 5 days to combat the ammonia) I added roughly 5 tb.s of salt and am planning to stick the heater in there and start raising the temperature.
<I'd hold off. Doubtful that this is the protozoan Ich... where would it come from after all these months?>
I dissolved the salt before adding it with some treated water. About 10 minutes after I closed the lid another one of my fish started having these, for like of better terms, seizures. He'd swim then hit the glass and convulse violently then swim a bit then do it again.
<... the salt>
From what I've read this could mean a variety of things, but without visual evidence I don't know what to do. I took about 1 1/2 gal. of water out and added the same amount back in to dilute the salt if that's what's causing it but I'm leery about doing anything else.
Their eyes are clear, their fins are raised, gills are not red, breathing is not rapid, scales are shiny, and their appetites are healthy with the exception that the don't seem to be as excited to see me as usual. They would swim to the front of the aquarium, they're not acting as ravenous as usual.
Whew! Okay, so that's the back story so far, let me list my specific question so that it's easier...
Am I missing something in the cycling process of the 55 gal.? Why is it not cycle and ammonia so high?
<These things sometimes take more time... please read here:
to introduce, reinforce ideas re measures to spur on cycling>
The white spots on one of the fish does not look like granulated sugar (like
the spots described for Ich), but they are quite small- could it be fungus?
<Mmm, doubtful... most likely "just" body slime/mucus accumulation due to irritation... the ammonia et al.>
With time in mind, how can I diagnose the symptoms correctly? Salt and Heat
method for Ich first and then more wide spectrum medication if it fails?
<Mmm, not really. Just get the new tank up and going. Cut feeding way back if any detectable ammonia is present>
Without any outward visual symptoms is there any other way to diagnose the seizures/convulsions/shaking?
Should I wait to add the heater?
<I'd add, set to the low seventies F>
That's all so far, I'd like to thank you ahead for your advice.
The site is great and everyone here is awesome.
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Something's Fishy  2/8/11
Hello Mr. Fenner,
<Howdy Truc>
Thank you for your response. I'm glad to hear it might not be as severe as I had thought. I will admit that lately I've been a little heavy handed with the food. I'll definitely cut back to once every other day. When I first set up the 55gal. I added about 10 gal. of the water from the older aquarium with about two cups of gravel and some filter media that's also from the older aquarium. I let it run that way for a couple of weeks taking out and pouring in old water from the water changes from the 20 gal. after awhile there's a smell of mildew and a white slimy film on the hoods, filter and glass around the filter. I wiped it tested the water (Ammonia .80ppm) did 50% water change with treated water and never added old aquarium water to it again. Now what I would do is whenever I get ready to throw out an old sponge I'd just toss it into the new tank. I don't smell the mildew anymore, but I still see the white/opaque slime. What do you think that could be?
<Mix of Mycophyta/fungus, Protists...>
Oh, and to answer your question...they're fancy, but not the delicate ones. a Ryukin, a Fantail, and an Oranda (the Oranda has a small Wen (sp?) and it's actually the most lively in there).
<I see... and have goldfish like these myself>
Why do they shake like that with too much salt? That's very interesting...
<Perhaps the sodium is bridging parts of their nervous system. BobF>
Re: Something's Fishy -- 02/10/11

Hello Mr. Fenner,
<Mr. Lam>
I think you were onto something be cause the white dots on my goldfish have almost completely diminished over night. Also, while reading the link you sent me I realized that since it's been chilly here the temperatures in the have fluctuated within in the six ties-seventies range. I suppose suppose that's good for the fish, but is a clue to why the 55 gal. is taking so long to cycle. So, I think that I'm going to hook the heater up and keep it at a steady 77° F. Your thoughts?
<Should improve, speed up the process>
One last question- the tank that the fish are in have always have adequate oxygen flow grom the two HOB filters, the water fall effect stirs up the water very well and I've always seen small air bubbles throughout the tank. From time to time would see the bubbles on the fish. They will have them on their scales, fins, their mouths ect...could this be harmful?
<Not likely, no. Many very fine bubbles can be trouble... but these/conditions are rare in freshwater aquariums>
(the bubbles are tiny and you'd really have to examine closely to see them)
Welp! Thank you so much again for your advice!
<A pleasure to share. BobF>
Re: Something's Fishy -- 02/10/11
Thank you for the speedy response. I'm going keep reading. By the way, it's Ms. Truc :), but please call me Truc.
<Ahh, apologies Truc. BobF> 

Re: Something's Fishy   2/10/11
Hi there Mr. Fenner,
<Just Bob please Truc>
No questions this time. I just took a couple of pictures and wanted to send them in for you to check out. They're not amazing by any means, but I'm a proud parent. They're mostly of the Oranda because the others weren't going to stay still even if I threatened them with a frying pan :).
<They look fine to me. BobF>

Re: More re: Help (RMF, thoughts on very weird water chemistry?) -- 02/05/11
Hello Crew
Once again, I am very grateful that you folks are out there to help with decision making. Thanks for all you do.
I have three 5 inch Telescope Goldfish in a 75 G tank, Filstar canister 400, Fluval submersible 400 and Emperor HOB 400. Two Green Killing Machine UV sterilizers. Temp 74 (but now raising it again) nitrite 0 ammonia 0 nitrate .5 or less. This tank has been running for a year, but all filter media came from a 3 yr old 55 gallon.
I had impossible water parameters out of the tap at 9.2, with heavy silicate, metals, ammonia and nitrate. I finally installed an RO several months ago and now build the water using Malawi Victoria buffer and Replenish for GH. (both Seachem)
<I think you're adding to much Rift Valley salt mix if your pH is 8.5. Try about two-thirds whatever dose you're doing, and see how that works out.
For Goldfish, something around 10 degrees dH, 5 degrees KH, and a pH of 7.5 is perfect.>
I aerate the RO water 24 hours and the PH drops from 9.2 to 8.5. With the current strategy, I have a stable PH at 8.5.... albeit, very high.
<And perfectly tolerable for Goldfish, which do better in hard water than soft. A pH around 8 shouldn't cause them any great problems, and even 8.5 is well within their tolerance.>
Looking back, I know my fish were showing subtle signs of trouble for quite some time and I did not catch it. I did notice an occasional yawn and perhaps less vitality... but generally they all seemed fairly normal. I bought one fish out of a quarantine situation and when I got it home, I quarantined it for another 3 weeks and did not see any warning signs. I then put it in the main tank, and a few days later, over one weekend, the yawning escalated rapidly along with an explosion of fin rot, bottom sitting and stressed respiration, with all of the fish. There were no white spots or external indications, other than the advancing fin rot and blood streaks in the fins. One fish showed the beginning of raised scales on one side of the abdomen and some very mild bloat. They were too sick to use Malachite Green/formalin products so I took them to an aquatic vet several hours away to find out exactly what I was dealing with.
<I see.>
Nearly $1000 later,
after gill biopsy, scrapes, x-ray, etc, ad nauseum, we discovered that the fish had Ich packed in the gills and considering the damage, the fish had been fighting this for quite some time.
<This can be so, and it probably isn't unusual for healthy fish to have small populations of Ick parasites on their gills. Because you can't see them, it's impossible to diagnose this problem without help from your vet.>
My favorite fish had been living for a long time with a perforated intestine. (x-ray showed displacement of the intestine and a short section of gas in the fore part of the gut. RIP Stallone. The vet prescribed oral Baytril daily for 10 days, oral Flagyl for 5 days, heat the tank to 80 degrees and slowly raise salt to .3% . Within a week, all of the fin rot was gone or healing. Their regular routine is to swim into floating baskets in the tank for feeding, so they were not stressed about being captured. At their sickest, they would always get up off the bottom, go in their baskets and eat hungrily. I have one glutton and one bashful feeder, so this is the only way that they each get the right portion.
At 10 days of treatment, I still had some yawning and bottom sitting. The vet advised me to drop the temp in the tank 3-4 degrees and then slowly bring it up again, and also to stop the oral Baytril. within 24 hours the fin rot was back and making a vicious return. This was when one fish began to show advancing signs of dropsy and by day 2 off of the Baytril, he had bloat and some raised scales on both sides of his body... remarkably he was the happiest and most lively fish in the tank. This was on a Sunday night and I decided to put them back on Baytril, the vet prescribed more on Monday morning. The fin rot and grey bubbly areas on the fins once again are quickly clearing up. The fish with dropsy symptoms is back to normal... rather incredible... but I know he will likely fail again. I started to raise the temp in the tank and started seeing significant yawning at 77 degrees. At 78 degrees today, they are very uncomfortable and doing some bolting across the tank to escape attack. Still hungry, still bottom sitting unless they see me moving about in the room and then they try to get my attention for food.
<I see.>
Do I stay the course with .3% salt
<By which I assume you mean 3 ppt, i.e., 3 grammes of salt per litre, less than 10% normal seawater salinity, and barely SG 1.001 on a hydrometer.>
and bring the heat back up to 80?
<If treating for Whitespot, then yes. The salt at this low level is harmless to Goldfish. At high temperatures water contains less oxygen, so you may need to increase aeration and/or circulation in the tank. Coldwater fish will often exhibit laboured breathing once the temperature gets above, say, 24 C/75 F. Adding salt also reduces oxygen concentration, albeit very slightly compared to temperature.>
it has been 2 weeks now of treatment at these levels ( with 3 days of lowered temp and stopping Baytril at the 10 day mark, then resuming both)
How long can sensitive Fancies tolerate high salt and heat?
<In and of themselves, neither the salt nor the heat is fatal for Goldfish.
However, if oxygen concentration is low, and their gills have been damaged by Whitespot parasites, then they may be stressed.>
It is disturbing that at 2 weeks, the Ich symptoms are still significant. I am afraid to stop the Baytril again. I'm afraid to use any harsh chemicals, MG or Form. I think it would push them over the edge. Does the Baytril somehow impede the effect of salt/heat?
Is my high PH contributing to this Ich nightmare?
Do I need to risk all and pour in the Rid Ich ?
<If the salt/heat doesn't fix things as it is now, I'd try doubling the salinity for a few weeks, while lowering the temperature to 22 C/72 F.
Remember, the heat is primarily about speeding up the life cycle of the Ick parasite and doesn't actually kill the parasites in any meaningful way. So you can do a trade-off by not raising the temperature so much, but maintaining the salinity for longer. Goldfish should have no problems at 5 grammes of salt per litre, and that should surely kill off the Whitespot.>
Any insights and all opinions would be much appreciated. The vet has given me much help with prescriptions and diagnosis but she is not a fish keeper and not perhaps versed in strains of Ich that can be resistant to standard treatment.
<Is indeed a thorny problem. Here in England there's a product called eSHa EXIT that seems to work well against "super" Whitespot, though sometimes two rounds are needed rather than just one.>
And frankly, my bank account will not allow more visits to her office.
<I can well understand that, and frankly, I'd have euthanised fish that didn't respond to standard medications.>
Many thanks
<Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: More re: Help (RMF, thoughts on very weird water chemistry?)   2/6/11

Thanks again for giving me more options.
<Glad to help.>
I am working on slowly lowering the temperature and dh/kH. It seems like a perfect solution to raise the salt more and lower the temp for a longer period of time.
<Yes, but only slightly in each direction. A little cooler, a little saltier. Should be a safe trade-off.>
An option I've not heard of or tried before and would not have guessed that GF would tolerate high salt for an extended length of time.
<Feral Goldfish at least can tolerate quite brackish water for long periods of time. Fancy Goldfish are inbred and to some degree weakened because breeders have selected for certain looks rather than strength, health or fitness, but they should be able to tolerate significant salinity for extended periods.>
Thanks again for sharing your years of experience with those of us struggling to learn. I want to make sure that I understand the dosage you are suggesting.... and I apologize profusely, once again for my embarrassing math skills. Metric is terrifying..... and only slightly more terrifying than my own system of arithmetic. Dreadfully sorry.
<The thing is that metric IS easier than any other system because it's all based around units of ten. But I couldn't care less if you use US or Imperial measurements, just so long as you use them carefully.>
the 75 G tank has 67 gallons of water in it, including the estimated filter content.
<If it's a 75 gallon tank, you can lop 10% off that for the rocks and gravel and such, as well as the fact you don't fill the tank right to the very top. The stated capacity of aquaria is very approximate, and almost never "as advertised". So yes, something like 65 gallons would be about right in real-world numbers. Better to under-estimate than over-estimate, so let's say 65 US gallons.>
For two weeks I have had 73 tablespoons of API Aquarium salt in this tank.
It is a course type of rock salt. Are you recommending approximately another 50 tablespoons of salt?
<I'm not recommending you use teaspoons or tablespoons at all. This is a hopelessly inaccurate way to measure out salt. Are you filling each spoon identically? Are you using level or heaped spoons? Are you taking into account whether the salt is dry and tightly packed or damp and all puffed up? So, forget about this. It just doesn't work very well.>
If need be, I will go buy a kitchen scale so that I can weigh the salt in grams for you. I understand that my method of measuring and communicating it to you is not very precise.
<Kitchen scales are very useful things, and while you could get by without them and estimate by spoonfuls, that isn't my recommendation. Put another way, a salinity of 3 parts-per-thousand, ppt, is equivalent to about 0.4 US ounces per US gallon of water (in metric, 3 grammes per litre, since 1 ppt = 1 gramme/litre -- very convenient!). Anyway, if you have a bucket holding 5 gallons, then you'd stir in 5 x 0.4 ounces which would be 2 ounces of salt. All very straightforward. In terms of standard cooking spoons, 0.8 ounces should be about one level teaspoon, so 2 ounces of salt would be, what, 2/0.8 = 2.5 teaspoons. But as I say, you need to be very careful if you insist on using spoons. Make sure the spoon is a standard one, make sure it's filled to the level, no more, and make sure the salt is bone-dry.
Ideally, use a floating glass hydrometer or similar to check the specific gravity afterwards -- you're aiming for SG 1.001, and no higher than 1.002-1.003. There's an application on my website called Brack Calc that you can play with to see how salinity and specific gravity are interconnected, and you can shuffle between metric and US units to your heart's content!>
Yes, I spend altogether too much time and money on these fish.
<And as you're learning, I think, with fish prevention is the key, since proper veterinarian care comes at a price out of all relation to the cost of the fish. Ironically, healthy fish are generally very easy to keep, and for their body weight, live longer and succumb to far fewer diseases than warm-blooded pets like birds and mice. Things become problematic when people start keeping fish that have been inbred (like fancy Goldfish and fancy Bettas) or require very specific water chemistry and quality conditions to do well (like when Mollies are kept in freshwater, or Neons in hard water). Since you know about horses and dogs, the analogous situations with them should be obvious. Pedigree dogs for example often suffer from things like hip dysplasia and heart conditions typical of the breed and exacerbated by the inbreeding that produces low-cost dogs of that variety. By contrast, mongrel dogs tend to be, on average, much hardier and certainly much longer lived.>
But I am on a mission to learn what makes them tick. I was married to veterinary medicine for many years and I believe that I'm fairly competent in caring for parrots, dogs, horses.... but fish are quite something else again! My fish thank you for your assistance.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More re: Help (Salt, GF disease... very weird water chemistry?) -- 02/10/11

Hi Neale
I bought a kitchen scale and I have been lowering temp and raising salt. I get knots in my stomach when someones' life depends on my math skills !!
<Oh dear.>
65 gallons = 246 liters
<Yes. Google will do all this stuff for you. Type in "65 gal in l" into google, and lo and behold, it gives you the answer! Roughly speaking, there are just under four litres to the US gallon, so if you quadruple the
gallons and then knock off a bit, you should get the right sort of answer.
Anyway, can we call this 250 litres to keep this simple?>
I have 1582 grams (55.8 oz) of salt in the tank now.
<250 litres dosed at 3 grammes per litre would be 3 x 250 = 750 grammes of salt. That should be adequate for most cases of Whitespot. In extreme cases, upping the dosage to 5 grammes per litre would be necessary, which would be 5 x 250 = 1,250 grammes of salt. HOWEVER, you wouldn't add 1,250
grammes to a tank already containing 750 grammes! That would result in you actually having 2,000 grammes of salt in total, for a salinity of 8 grammes per litre! Don't try to add salt in one fell swoop. Instead, concentrate on water changes. A big bucket typically contains 15 litres (about 4 gallons).
So each time you took out one bucket of water, you'd replace it with a bucket into which either 3 g/l (i.e., 3 x 15 = 45 grammes total) was added or 5 g/l (i.e., 5 x 15 = 75 grammes total).>
approximately double the 3ppt I started out with. Is this in line with what you were suggesting?
<Your 1,582 grammes is a trifle high, about 6 grammes per litre of water.
Not enough to cause harm though, still only SG 1.003 on the specific gravity scale, well within the tolerance of Goldfish. Still, I'd suggest swapping out about 20% of the water for plain fresh water.>
I have the temperature at 75... the temp of my house.
The fish have gone into hibernation. No gasping, yawning or twitching... just lying on the bottom.
<Yes, does happen when things are "not quite right". If the salinity is too high, freshwater fish tend to thrash about and look very disturbed, as if trying to swim out. If they're simply sitting there, then salinity probably isn't an issue. Still, if you are unsure about what you're doing with salt, then please buy a cheap glass floating hydrometer. Costs about $5. You can get them at aquarium shops, but very similar and perfectly usable ones will be sold via brewing suppliers, scientific suppliers, etc. All you need is one that registers 1.000 when placed in freshwater. When placed in your aquarium -- with salt added -- it should register something from 1.001 to 1.003 depending on how salty you've decided to go.>
They will get up very slowly to eat, and then go back to the bottom corner like they are in a coma. The fin rot has disappeared again. I had a very slight recurrence of bloat/scales lifting yesterday on the one fish who is struggling with that, but this morning, he is back to normal.
Does this behavioral change of lying on the bottom reflect a change in metabolism and to be expected or is it a huge red flag?
<Difficult to say. Would continue to observe for now.>
The fish have a host of other symptoms, which my vet insisted were secondary to the Ich.
From the beginning, I have had the uncomfortable feeling that we were missing something in the diagnoses. I accept that the fin rot could be Ich related.
<Often is. The Ick parasite breaks through the skin when it bursts open, and in doing so, allows bacteria into the fish.>
But the veiltal has an asymmetrical body shape... one side of the abdomen is larger and rounded when compared to the other side. I can"t tell if her spine is slightly bent, or if it is an asymmetry of the abdomen. When she swims, it seems to even out on both sides. She sleeps with a curve in her body. She has cloudy eye (inside, with a blue look) on both sides. She also now has a very small anal prolapse. All of the fish have lost weight, all have had white stringy, floating feces ( though now two fish are back to normal stool, one fish still has some stool interspersed along with bubbles and white strings.) All of them have wild swings in color intensity... they go from very dark to extremely pale.
<These are rather nebulous and can be caused by a variety of things. Anal prolapse and white (i.e., mucous-rich) faeces tend to imply an infection -- either bacterial or protozoan -- of the lower gut. Hexamita in cichlids is the common example. Cloudy eyes on both sides of the head tend to imply
environmental stress.>
The fish who has had sporadic dropsical symptoms, has had a lateral line erosion for many months. One pit is the size of a scale and there are two slightly smaller pits that are quite deep. I pointed this out to the vet but she did not address an answer to me specifically. His eyes are clear, but he had the most serious fin rot and blood. All of this is so incredibly frustrating... as I work so hard to keep the water condition
<I agree.>
There is never any ammonia, nitrite or Nitrate over 5.
<Which is good.>
The vet saw the gills packed with Ich on biopsy, and then seemed to dismiss these other symptoms.... prescribing treatment with Baytril, one week of Metro and salt/heat.
<Would tend to concur with your vet. Metronidazole is an antibiotic and an anti-protozoan, so works well against those germs inside the gut. It's the standard medication for Hexamita. Salt/heat is a low impact treatment for Whitespot. Baytril is a general antibiotic helpful for opportunistic infections such as those that might be causing finrot, including Pseudomonas and Aeromonas. It also works against some types of
Mycobacterium. So all in all, your vet has give you some good stuff here.>
Did we miss something? Are we dealing with Spironucleus? I wish we would have done cultures when Stallone died, but that didn't happen. Does it require an electron microscope to identify S. vortens?
<It is extremely difficult to identify some of these pathogens outside a laboratory, and at some point becomes cost prohibitive. The fact is that your fish are vastly more likely to have been stressed by something in the environment, and subsequently become infected with a variety of germs, than anything more rare or exotic. Not to say it's impossible, just unlikely.
Ultimately, fish healthcare comes down to probabilities, because 99% of the time sick fish are sick because of a tiny handful of common problems:
overstocking, poor filtration, bad diet, lack of quarantining. You could be one of the exceptions, and your struggles here are definitely not typical.
At some point if your fish still fail to recover, I'd honestly think about euthanising them and starting over, slowly, with fish species very carefully chosen to match your precise water chemistry. But it may well be
that I'm being dispassionate here and you'd prefer to see how things go.>
I don't want to belabor this point, but I keep coming back to it in my mind. We finally got the PH stabilized to 8.5 about 6 months ago... but before that, it would bounce from 8.3 to 8.6 and I had to struggle with chemicals and daily monitoring to keep it from moving too much . Switching to RO water and Seachem products finally nailed the Ph at 8.5.
But likely some damage was done to these fish before that time, or at least it was a big stressor.
One weekend, when I was gone, the PH jumped to 9 and 3 fish died.
I can't help but question... If Goldfish find 7.5 PH to be ideal, and 9 Ph kills them.... my common sense tells me that 8.5 PH is stressful, particular with weakened individuals.
Yes, no?
<Somewhat. Firstly, the pH scale is logarithmic. So pH 7 to pH 8 to pH 9 doesn't mean the alkalinity goes up in even steps. Instead pH 8 is ten times more alkaline than pH 7, and pH 9 ten times as alkaline as pH 8. In any case, Goldfish do best between pH 7 and 8. What's your water chemistry?
It sounds as if it's very hard, and in particular, has a very high carbonate hardness. It may be that you need to severely dilute your tap water with RO water, perhaps 25% tap water, 75% RO water. "Ideal" conditions would be about 10-15 degrees dH, 5-10 degrees KH, and a pH around 7.5. One problem for you is, perhaps, you've got these crazy-hard water chemistry values, and very few fish thrive in them, save those from crazy-hard water in the wild. Mollies, for example, would perhaps do really well in your water, as they LOVE liquid rock, especially if you add a spoonful of salt per gallon.>
sigh. I may have to drain my tank and go back to keeping Salamanders. I had one who stayed with me for more than a decade.
<Ah yes, Salamanders are hardy enough animals, though they don't do much!>
Thank you for your time and attention.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More re: Help (RMF, thoughts on very weird water chemistry?), Salt, GF    2/10/11

Yes, salamanders are pretty boring, although Earl did tap on the glass with his nose for food. I must say though, it was nice to have an animal that was not compelled to commit suicide at the prospect of having to live with me !
<A distinct plus, no question'¦>
I switched out 20% of the water with fresh, and the fish have come out of their coma somewhat. Now that they are awake, of course they are yawning again. :}
Thank you for all of the Math lessons... much appreciated. I think we have it now. I did take water to the LFS to have the salinity checked by whatever hydrometers they had. (and then I intended to buy one) but they said the small amount of salt I was using would not register... so I did not buy one.
<Not true, if the hydrometer goes down to 1.000. But if the hydrometers they sell only range between about 1.015 and 1.030, as is sometimes the case, then yes, your freshwater sample would not register.>
I've sent for the drop type of salinity test.
Yes, I just love these Telescope Butterflies... freakish though they may be. :) So I will stay the course and see how things go. If they die or I must put them down, I will nuke the tank and start over with Cichlid or a Puffer.
<Much to be said for both. In liquid rock you would find, for example Labidochromis caeruleus a particularly good choice: keep a group of half a dozen or more and they'll do their thing, and have the most vivid yellow colouration, especially the good quality ones. Central America yields some stunning fish, and a singleton Midas Cichlid can be a beautiful and intelligent pet. Do research cichlids carefully, because with some 2000 species there is huge potential for mistakes! Among puffers, the brackish water ones include some of the easiest species to keep, with the Green Spotted Puffer being a standout species in terms of size, colour and personality.>
But not yet. :} The one thing that gives me hope, is that I have a 25 gallon tank with two tiny Ranchu who have been with me very happily for many months. It makes me think this is doable if I can just keep things under control right from the beginning.
<Indeed, I would agree.>
The water out of the tap is 9.2 PH 3 KH and 9 GH. The city drastically changed the KH/GH a few months ago and everyone in town lost most of their fish. I test every time I change water, so I did ok. The LFS guy said it was good for his business... he sold out in a week. He was being sarcastic, of course.
I tried every suggestion offered to me to make this city water work... and no matter what I did, the PH would rebound with deadly speed. Seachem finally suggested that I go to straight RO water (still a PH of 9.2) and then build the water up with their Malawi/Victoria buffer and Replenish to bring up the GH. It's expensive, but this is what finally nailed the PH at 8.5. It rarely moves at all.
<Cool. This would likely suit Rift Valley cichlids or Central Americans very well, too.>
And now I have an RO system for my own use as well. (see how I am trying to justify this) Gads, when I think of the lovely vacations I could take if I didn't have these fish !!
<Best not to think of it'¦>
One last question for you and then hopefully I will not have to badger you further for awhile ! I have 4 aquariums and none of them ever grow algae. I would give anything to have something green growing in them.
<Green algae, the pretty algae people want, needs bright light. Water chemistry is somewhat secondary, but brisk water movement does seem a plus. If you have upwards of 2 watts per gallon, you should get green algae. Less than that tends to favour the varieties that don't need as much light, particularly diatoms and hair algae.>
I have a constant, annoying overgrowth of diatoms however.
<Yes, diatoms are the classic algae in tanks with unstable conditions and/or minimal lighting.>
The only way to stop it is to never turn on the lights and that's not healthy for the fish.
<The fish couldn't care less. Actually, they prefer dark tanks.>
Even the oldest 4yr old tank with 2 comets in it still has the same problem. Knowing what you know about my water parameters, I wondered if you had any opinions on why this is. I'm hoping the longer I use RO water, that they will gradually disappear. I have only artificial plants (all of the polished river stones removed) The bottom is now bare glass, except that I have some flat glass discs (like squashed marbles) on the bottom where they bottom sit... so that their fins rest on top of them where it is clean.
<Do try floating Indian Fern. If that grows happily, then you're laughing. It's a great nitrate remover, and forms a deep canopy from the surface down about 6-8 inches. For the bottom, try Anubias and Java ferns, both attached to rocks or bogwood. In direct light they tend to get smothered with algae, but under floating plants can do extremely well, so long as the floating plants are cropped back periodically. Between them, these plants produce lots of green, without the need for fancy substrates, CO2, etc.>
Ok, I'm sure you have better things to do than entertain constant questions from me. Truly, thank you so much for your help.
<Glad to help, Neale.>
Re: More re: Hello Crew (RMF, second opinion?)<<Hypochondria, west-wise>> 2/13/11

Greetings, Crew!
Since my saga in the tank began on the eve of our great snowfall, my tank has been thru a lot. I am hopeful that one of you wise individuals will be able to point me in the right direction, or at very least provide me with some reassurance that my current plan of action is headed in the right direction.
Per Neale's recommendation, I did purchase and dose my 30gal tank with 15mL Melafix.
<... worthless>
After one day of that, I began to observe several things: a) my telescope's eyes appeared almost as if the membrane itself was turning white and peeling away, b) some white patches on the head and eyes, c) What looked to me like a large, diffuse bloody area in Tele's tail fin, along with transparent, ragged, bloody border and d) some algal growth on the glass (brown).
So I did ~25% change (I use untreated well water, high Fe, generally speaking very hard water. GH180,KH240,pH 8.0, NO2- 0, NO3- 0- 30). Now my thinking is that my water is alkaline, which probably holds a slightly higher pH for a longer period of time. However, is the carbonate hardness too high, and is that worth adjusting?
<If easy to do... mix in some RO>
My telescope has thrived in this water for years (until now) so I have a hard time justifying a new water treatment regime at this time. I used to have a piece of driftwood in my tank and all seemed well, however it did seem to me that I had more problems with algae at that time. I do have some plants, hope to add more in the future.
Ok, back to what I did. After seeing the white patches, I thought fungus,
>... from what cause/s?<
so I treated in the main tank with API's Fungus Cure.
No improvement. So then I began to think C-bacteria, and I used API's Triple Sulfa.
(Meanwhile I have been adding the Melafix daily as a preventative)
<Worse than worthless. toxic>
After two doses of Triple Sulfa, I finally begin to see some improvement.
The external eye membranes appear normal, however my flat eyed telescope does have just one eye that is duller in color than the other and it has always been that way. So I have attributed that to his non pedigreed genetics (Thanks again Neale!) I am planning to administer dose #4 of Triple Sulfa today, but I am wondering if this particular antibiotic is really just an exercise in redundancy at this point. I did a (probably overzealous) cleaning of the tank, during which I purposely vacuumed and stirred the substrate. I am running 2 10gal filters in addition to my usual 30 gal (hanging box?) filter. I have removed my lighting for the time being. I am also feeding my fish Jungle's Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food and last night I supplemented with some boiled Bok Choy leaves. Normally I feed Tetra Goldfish Flakes along with peas and carrots or lettuce from my kitchen. I have lost 2 Cory Cats since this, so I suspect that Neale's initial impression of a "moribund" Catfish was spot-on. Now for what I consider to be a quite bizarre anomaly, I have observed the large (comparatively-speaking) Telescope snapping at and chasing the remaining 3 Cory Cats around the tank! Thankfully he has not been successful at swallowing another as of yet! Should I be interpreting this behavior as a sign that Telescope is feeling hungry?
>Who knows<
Other than that behavior and the small grayish white patch on Telescope's head, the fish appear fine today, no clamped fins and normal movement.
I've read that some fish (however rare) have shown intolerance to the Melafix.
>Is more toxic than helpful<
Are you all aware of any goldfish displaying this?
<... yes>
Is it possible that the anti-bacterial properties
<... so would vinegar or drain cleaner>
of the Melafix could causatively create a "surge" in bacterial activity within a tank? And lastly, is the Triple Sulfa a 'stronger' antibiotic than the Erythromycin? Am I on a road of antibiotic overload?
<Too much period>
I can't stress enough just how incredible your site is, many thanks for the education that you provide and for the learning and conscientious fish keeping you inspire! And, very importantly, for using standard grammar still :)
Have a Splendid Day (and Week) Ahead!
<Default/punt to just decent care... and patience. Bob Fenner>
Re: More re: Hello Crew (RMF, second opinion?)

Dear Mr. Fenner,
Stop me if I am wrong here: You would NOT use Melafix, and you consider poisonous and acidic to my fish at this time.
<... please DON'T write. Instead, use the search tool:
with a string like: "Melafix", use, toxicity...>
I am confused because this contradicts my LFS & Neale. (But I most certainly appreciate your opinion as well!)
You think that reverting to my normal care schedule should take care of the issues.
I will discontinue all supplements to the tank and allow it to go back to normal. I have already followed your advice of "when in doubt, do change" and that was immediately visibly the best thing that I could do for my ish when I saw him under stress.
Two questions, Mr. F, if I may call you that, first, what do you think of the one cloudy eye, and next, can you please point me in the right direction of the RO instructions?
<Posted... use the search tool or indices>
Many deep and sincere thanks,
<Are you a non-native (English) speaker? B>
Re: More re: Part 2   02/13/11

Mr. Fenner, I also meant to ask you about the use of mercurochrome to treat sores and ulcers on tail fins. As that product is not available to me, is there an acceptable substitute, should the situation present itself? (I have not seen the topic addressed on your site, my apologizes if I have missed it somewhere).
<Other Mercury-based topicals can be used... Merthiolate, Merbromin>
I apologize for my many questions, I am simply a person who asks lots of questions! Thank you again!
<Questions are good. Just please search first. B>

Sick goldfish 10/20/2009
Dear crew, I have two goldfish in a 36 gal tank. I monitor the water water es). The oldest fish is 12 years old.
<Just entering middle age by Goldfish standards!>
My problem is with the 4 year old fish. I recently went on vacation and when I returned the 4 year old was not eating as usual. I checked the water and did my regular water change. Now the 4 year old is not eating at all (for 4-5 days) looks bloated/ swollen. The rectum area is very enlarged and four days ago scales loosened on each side of the rectum (1/2 inch are on each side) and two days age those scales fell off exposing the white skin underneath.
<Sounds like a bacterial infection, probably opportunistic, and brought on by a water quality problem. Might conceivably be related to constipation, but this doesn't usually lead to scale loss or an anal prolapse.
So while I would certainly use the standard Epsom salt/cooked peas treatment as per constipation, I'd also be treating with an antibiotic (such as KanaPlex or Maracyn). Outside of the US these are available only from a vet.>
No more scales have loosened or fallen of since then. He swims near the top, kind of floats but is stable and swim normal when he wants. I had not seen him poop 3-5 days. Three days ago I did another water change 60% and added mineral sea salts 2 tablespoons per 10 gallon. The next day he started excreting a long thin algae colored poop. He has done this several times that I have seen. My best guess is that he was over feed while I was gone and has become constipated and swollen to the point that he loosen some scales.
- should I just continue the salt treatment till better? - will the scales grow back? - how long can a 10 inch goldfish live without eating?
<Tonic/aquarium salt will have no benefit here. It's very important to understand salt isn't a cure-all -- if it was, healthcare provision for people, let alone fish, would be very cheap! In fact salt fixes almost nothing, and it's pushed by retailers more because it's profitable than anything else. It can be used for saltwater dips in a bucket, which shift things like fish lice and flukes, and at lower doses in the aquarium to combat Ick/Whitespot. Very low concentrations offer some benefit in badly maintained/immature tanks by reducing (though not eliminating) the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. But that's it. It doesn't cure anything else.
There's no need to add salt to any freshwater aquarium except for those very specific reasons. Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) is something else entirely, and while it doesn't cure anything either, it does help reduce swelling and acts as a muscle relaxant, and it's this latter benefit that makes it useful for combating constipation. A dosage of 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons should do the tick. By feeding the fish high-fibre foods like peas, and providing the muscle relaxant, blockages in the gut can be cleared. But as I say, I don't think this is the prime issue here, given the other symptoms. I'd treat with Epsom salt and peas anyway, just in case (it won't do any harm) but I'd also treat with an antibiotic, since this sounds like a bacterial infection of the gut.>
Any help would greatly be appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

How to use Epsom salt 11/21/08
Good Morning, Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Sorry for bothering you guys again. Our goldfish is in 2.65 gallon tank with a filter, aerator, and airstones ( we got the new big tank it is cycling right now).
She is hanging near the surface nearly vertically, has completely clamped her fins to her body, not eating much like her usual self and has something not sure what on her body like a clear and in some places cloudy film, and one wispy strand on her head that has since disappeared after putting in PimaFix. After reading through your website came to the conclusion she has some kind of parasitic infection and not the fungal infection. In some places it is mentioned to use 1 table spoons of Epsom salt for 5 gallons, and in some use the 2-3 table spoons of aquarium salts. Want to know what should be used for treating her and how much. The water is in perfect condition with Ammonia = 0 ppm, Nitrites = 0 ppm, Nitrates = 5 ppm and pH = 7.5. She has always been kept with aquarium salt in her water about 1 table spoon in 5 gallons, as it was suggested by the Pet Smart where we got her. How do we go about removing that completely and putting in Epsom salt.
Your help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
<Greetings. When using Epsom salt, a good dose is 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water. You can use it alongside aquarium salt without problems, even though aquarium salt isn't necessary when keeping Goldfish. HOWEVER, your aquarium is ridiculously small; 2.65 gallons is NOT NEARLY enough space for a Goldfish. I would move the Goldfish to your new, big tank IMMEDIATELY.
Even if it isn't 100% cycled yet, conditions will be much better for your Goldfish. (Especially if you do regular water changes, e.g., 25% every 2 days until the tank is cycled; and then 25-50% water changes weekly.) Why do you think this fish has a parasitic infection? Epsom salt fixes very specific things; it is a muscle relaxant and helps with constipation. It also helps to reduce certain types of swelling. But it doesn't kill parasites and it doesn't fix bacterial or fungal infections. If you think your fish has a disease caused by parasites, bacteria or fungi, then Epsom salt IS NOT what you need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: How to use Epsom salt 11/23/08
Hi Neale, <Hello again!> Thank you for your comprehensive and informative answer. I am sorry for bothering you again. Have moved the fish to the bigger tank as you suggested. Tried the Epsom salt, she has after several days opened up all of her fins and swimming in the bottom of the tank and if you turn off the filters then she even explores the new environment (thank you very much). Have also removed the gravel and all the ornaments from the tank. <Glad she's looking better.> Our LFS people after listening to Goldie's condition said she has parasite infection and suggested the medication. She had developed tail rot in half of her tail about four weeks ago (my mistake 25% water change was made every day in her small tank and didn't do it for three consecutive days) when Melafix didn't help it was treated with Maracyn, <Melafix tends to be useless. Best avoided, despite being cheap. Maracyn much more effective: a clinically tested version of the antibiotic Erythromycin, as opposed to so-called cures like Melafix based on tea-tree oil that haven't been tested.> I didn't want to put in any more medications hence my question about the Epsom salt but when you said it doesn't heal any parasite infections, I had put the medication in the tank yesterday morning and removed the carbon from the filters. But now she has one long white stringy thing attached to her tail and something white and fluffy is on edges of the tail and I can see few red streaks in the tail that were not there yesterday and it looks like the edges are loosing colour becoming transparent and starting to fray. <Almost certainly Finrot, quite likely with a bit of Fungus thrown in (the two often occur together).> Also found one stringy wispy stuff similar to what is attached to the tail floating in the water and removed it with the net but couldn't figure out what it was. The area that was affected by the tail rot seems to be most affected now with black being covered by something white. She still seems to be covered by the film with two flecks of white on her head. All of this has developed over the night nothing was there yesterday other than the film. The water still checks out perfect with pH=7.5, Nitrates=5ppm, Nitrites=0ppm and Ammonia=0ppm. <The water is fine; keep treating for Finrot. Do not put carbon back in the filter until you have finished all treatments. In fact, I'd recommend against carbon altogether: in the Goldfish aquarium, use all the space in the filter for biological and mechanical filtration.> Can you please make a diagnoses as to what it is? Can those two flecks be Ick? Please need help, she had just recovered from the tail rot and was swimming again happy and healthy. When you put your finger in the water she would just come up and scratch her head against it, every one in our family loves it. She has become the baby of our house, and every one is really worried. Your help is very appreciated. Thank you. Best Regards, Midhat. <Cheers, Neale.>

Salt- Koi- Goldfish... and Anchorworm evidently   8/5/08 Dear WetWeb Crew, Could someone there tell me the correct amount of salt to use for medicinal purposes-salt bathes. My Koi and Gold fish have a parasite on them. It looks like a barb or needle sticking out of the base of the dorsal fin. Also how long should I leave them in the salt solution. I would greatly appreciate your help. Thanks for your time. John. <The following is a table modified from "The Interpet Manual of Fish Health", a useful little book: --- 0.1% (1 gramme per litre): General additive for livebearers or in tanks where fish show physical damage (i.e., lesions, fin damage). Use in the aquarium. 0.3% (3 g/l): Reduces nitrite toxicity or to treat physical damage. Use in the aquarium. 0.3-0.5% (3-5 g/l): To control Hydra. Use in the aquarium for no more than 5 to 7 days, then change water to gradually reduce salinity. 1% (10 g/l): To treat ulcer disease on coldwater fish. Acclimate fish gradually and then reduce salinity gradually once fish are cured. 2-3% (20-30 g/l): To remove leeches from pond fish. Use as a bath, with fish put into bath for 15-30 minute dips. --- In you case, it sounds like you have leeches or anchor worm. Salt dips will certainly deal with leeches, but anchor worms will need a specific treatment of some sort. Salt won't help because the free-living stages are in the water column, so even if the adults are killed, another generation of anchor worms will find their way onto your fish. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/contrpdparasit.htm Your local pond supplier may well have a variety of other treatments available. Cheers, Neale.>

Dropsy problem, GF    6/30/07 Hi, how are you? <<Just smacking, Mr. Bond! Tom with you.>> Now one of my large goldfish is suffering from dropsy. Please guide me how can I treat her. <<Optimize water conditions/quality and keep your fingers crossed. 'Dropsy' isn't a condition, in and of itself. Dropsy is merely an indication of an internal infection/infestation that affects one, or more, of the internal organs. Without knowing what, exactly, is causing your Goldfish's problem, a course of treatment is nothing more than a 'crapshoot'. In other words, pure luck.>> She has not eaten food for last 4 days. Please help me. <<Not eating isn't 'bad'. Fish can go for days, or longer, without eating. It does 'fit' with a fish that isn't feeling well, though.>> It is about 5 inches in length. I have also put Epsom salt. She has also not done her toilet. <<You might try an Epsom salt bath rather than merely adding the salt to the tank, which probably won't be as effective in this case. Add one tablespoon to some aquarium water, in a separate container, and bathe the fish for about 10-15 minutes. With luck (here I go), the compaction, if any, will be relieved. Again, water quality and water conditions must be kept high in the main tank. Your pet's immune system will have to do the rest. Best of luck to you and your pet. Tom>>

Fantail Goldfish constipation   3/11/07 Hi!   <Hi Michele, Jorie here today> I have a fantail goldfish and he has stopped eating. <That's never good.> He also hasn't defecated recently. <Also bad.> His abdomen seems distended so I'm assuming he's suffering from constipation. <My guess as well.> His water ph, ammonia and nitrate levels are perfect and he's the only fish in a 10 gallon tank. <By perfect, I hope you mean ammonia = zero, and nitrates are no higher than 20 ppm. Also, I'd suggest checking nitrite levels. With regards to pH, so long as it isn't one extreme or the other (basic or acidic), and it remains stable, that should be just fine.> I've read about 15 min Epsom salt soaks and feeding them peas. <Both can/do treat goldfish constipation.> He's not eating though so I can't get him to eat peas. <There's a product called Kent Garlic Xtreme (basically concentrated garlic oil/extract) that does wonders for stimulating fish appetite.  I'd suggest getting some, soaking a pea or two in a couple of drops, and seeing if this can entice the goldie to eat.  I've also read that putting one grain of Epsom salt inside the pea can/does help; obviously, the fish must eat the pea for this remedy to be effective. If your fish continues to absolutely refuse food (and, that may not be the worst thing, as many goldfish keepers swear that a few days of fasting works wonders in treating constipation), then I'd suggest adding Epsom salt directly to his tank (since he lives alone) at the rate of 1 tsp. per 5 gal. Keeping a close eye on the fish, I'd suggest leaving him in this treatment bath overnight, then doing a water change the next day. Some goldfish keepers do Epsom salt baths at a concentration as high as 1 tsp. per gallon, but I'd use that for a short-term bath (15 min., as you suggest), and only if the lesser Epsom-salt concentration doesn't work.  If you see improvement, you can treat your fish for a couple of days in the 1 tsp./5 gal. solution.> I'm not sure what else to do for him without hurting him.  Please let me know. <See above. Hopefully at least one of the above methods will work for you and your goldfish.> Thanks for your help! <You're welcome. Good luck, Jorie> Michele
Re: Fantail Goldfish constipation FOLLOW-UP
 3-13-07 Hi again, <Hello again>    I've tried the salt baths but nothing that I've noticed yet. <What concentration of salt and for what length of time? Perhaps gradually stepping up the amount of Epsom salt (up to 1 tsp./gallon of H20) may help.> I'm going to the pet store later to buy the garlic oil to put on his food to see if that works.  He hasn't eaten in a while.  I thought it was just him getting used to his new environment. <This 10 gal. tank is new for him, then? Was it cycled prior to adding the fish? Have you tested the water parameters recently?> He was actually on his death bed over the weekend.  He was pale and laying at the bottom on his side.  I took him out, prayed a little, started looking online for things to do, put him in the salt bath, tested his water, etc.  He's better, he's swimming, he has all of his color back - seems happy. <Good sign. I would recommend adding the Epsom salt directly to his tank for a period of 24 hours - if the short-term bath helped, then a longer-term "soak" should be even better.> As of this morning though, he still hasn't eaten (that I can tell) and I can't tell if he's finally defecated.  My question is - what if neither of these work?  Is there anything else that I can do for him?  I'm afraid I'll lose him soon.   <It's so hard to treat sick fish. The best thing you can do is keep his water clean, keep up the Epsom salt treatments, and try to stimulate his appetite with the Garlic Xtreme. If he won't accept the peas, you could try spinach or zucchini (boiled or blanched), or even Tubifex worms.  Anything that's not too starchy. Also, read through here for some additional feeding ideas: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshfdgfaqs.htm Treating fish ailments is truly an exercise in patience, and I can relate as to how frustrating it can be.  I do recommend longer Epsom-salt treatments, and will cross my fingers that this will help. Good luck, Jorie>       Thanks for your help!   Michele
Re: Fantail Goldfish constipation FOLLOW-UP
 3-13-07 Hi!  Thanks for your reply.  My answers to your questions are below. <<<Ok - let's take a look!>>>    Hi again, <Hello again>    I've tried the salt baths but nothing that I've noticed yet. <What concentration of salt and for what length of time? Perhaps gradually stepping up the amount of Epsom salt (up to 1 tsp./gallon of H20) may help.> <<I put 2 tsp in his tank and then I have a soak tank with a higher concentration in it.  I only soak him for 15 min per day in that.>>   <<<This is a 10 gal. tank, correct? I'd suggest increasing the amount of Epsom salt in the main tank from 1 tsp./5 gallons to 1 tsp./2-3 gallons - in other words, add a couple of additional teaspoons of Epsom salt to his main tank. How high is the soaking concentration?>>> I'm going to the pet store later to buy the garlic oil to put on his food to see if that works.  He hasn't eaten in a while.  I thought it was just him getting used to his new environment. <This 10 gal. tank is new for him, then? Was it cycled prior to adding the fish? Have you tested the water parameters recently?>  <<I put him in the new tank after the holidays.  He went from a 1 gal to a 10 gal.  I cycled it before I added him and I've been testing the water parameters.  All is good there.>> <<<Excellent. He could just be adapting to his new environment - does he have sufficient plants and decor to hide in? If he feels too "exposed", that can cause stress, lack of eating...>>> He was actually on his death bed over the weekend.  He was pale and laying at the bottom on his side.  I took him out, prayed a little, started looking online for things to do, put him in the salt bath, tested his water, etc.  He's better, he's swimming, he has all of his color back - seems happy. <Good sign. I would recommend adding the Epsom salt directly to his tank for a period of 24 hours - if the short-term bath helped, then a longer-term "soak" should be even better.>   <<Currently, I am keeping Epsom salt in his regular tank and then soaking him in the smaller tank for 15 min.>> <<<As per above, I'd increase the concentration of salt in the main tank.  I can't suggest the same for the bath without knowing the exact concentration of Epsom salt there...>>> As of this morning though, he still hasn't eaten (that I can tell) and I can't tell if he's finally defecated.  My question is - what if neither of these work?  Is there anything else that I can do for him?  I'm afraid I'll lose him soon.   <It's so hard to treat sick fish. The best thing you can do is keep his water clean, keep up the Epsom salt treatments, and try to stimulate his appetite with the Garlic Xtreme. If he won't accept the peas, you could try spinach or zucchini (boiled or blanched), or even Tubifex worms>   <<I'll try some of this later because I soaked some of his regular food in the garlic extract and he didn't care.>>   <<<You can alternatively add a couple of drops of the Garlic Xtreme to the tank water - see if this makes a difference. Don't overdose, though; as I'm sure you've noticed, this is really potent (and smelly!) stuff!>>>   <Anything that's not too starchy. Also, read through here for some additional feeding ideas: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshfdgfaqs.htm Treating fish ailments is truly an exercise in patience, and I can relate as to how frustrating it can be.  I do recommend longer Epsom-salt treatments, and will cross my fingers that this will help. Good luck, Jorie>   <<Thanks again!!>> <<<You're welcome. Hope these new suggestions help.>>>      Thanks for your help!   Michele Re: Fantail Goldfish constipation FOLLOW-UP 3  3-13-07 Thanks again for your quick reply.  Sorry I'm bombarding you with a zillion question.  I've answered your new questions below.   <<<This is a 10 gal. tank, correct? I'd suggest increasing the amount of Epsom salt in the main tank from 1 tsp./5 gallons to 1 tsp./2-3 gallons - in other words, add a couple of additional teaspoons of Epsom salt to his main tank. How high is the soaking concentration?>>>  For the 10 gallon tank, I only put a 2 teaspoons in there.  For the soak tank, I think I put a tablespoon in there.  I'm pretty sure this is what I read. <<<<Again, I suggest increasing the Epsom salt concentration in the main tank - as high as 1 tsp./1 gal. This should alleviate the need for the soak tank, also.>>>> <<<Excellent. He could just be adapting to his new environment - does he have sufficient plants and decor to hide in? If he feels too "exposed", that can cause stress, lack of eating...>>>  Unfortunately, he had 1 plant that I've removed since he's been sick.  In his smaller 1 gal tank, there wasn't any room for a plant.  He didn't have any in there either but he was so different in that tank.  It seems like when I put him in the new tank, he got lost.  He seems to like the smaller tank.  Not sure why and maybe I'm just reading him wrong.  His attitude is just so different.  What type of plants do you suggest?   <<<<Anything - plastic, silk would be just fine. Any sort of decorations, even simple ones like terra-cotta flower pots or PVC would help too. This should help your fish feel less "lost" in the new tank.>>>> I tried some real ones a while back with another fish that I had and it just got slimy and died.   <<<<Setting up a planted FW tank is quite an ordeal; for the time being, I suggest going with the "fake plants", just to make your fish more comfortable. Doesn't have to be fancy, just efficient.>>>> <<<You can alternatively add a couple of drops of the Garlic Xtreme to the tank water - see if this makes a difference. Don't overdose, though; as I'm sure you've noticed, this is really potent (and smelly!) stuff!>>>   Yes, it sure is.  :OD  When I put the food in there, he seemed to perk up and follow the food but he never went over to eat.   It's so weird because he belongs to my daughter and she named him something goofy but at the time all he wanted to do was eat and he would go crazy when it was food time so we changed his name to Starvin' Marvin and he's a totally different fish.  We definitely miss the fish he used to be.  Trying to nail down the problem is very difficult. <<<<It sounds as though he's stressed. Try adding the decorations, hiding places, etc., and perhaps even turn off his tank light to allow him to "settle in".>>>> Thanks again for all of your help and wisdom. Michele <<<<Good luck, again. Jorie>>>>

Salt As A Medication  - 10/22/06 Dear Chuck: Thank you so much for all your help with my two goldfish with Finrot and Septicemia.  They are so much better now.  The water quality is  great!  I have learned so much in the past seven months. I love your forum and visit it frequently.  However, I have some  questions about aquarium salt and freshwater tanks.  The information I'm  getting from the forum is confusing. The standard answer for everything seems to  be "do a 50% water change and put in 5tsp of salt." 1) What diseases does aquarium salt cure? < Salt increases the slime coat on the exterior of the fish making it more difficult for parasites to actually get to the fish itself. Too much salt impairs the fishes ability to absorb oxygen out of the water because the slime covers the gills too.> 2) Should salt be the first thing I add to my tank when my fish is sick no matter what the symptoms are? < Adding salt may be beneficial to some fish but stressful to others. I would attempt a diagnoses instead of just adding salt.> 3) Does aquarium salt cure inner bacterial infections or  septicemia? < Salt may be beneficial but I would not call it a cure.> 4) Does aquarium salt raise or lower the pH, or make no difference at  all? < Salt is sodium and chloride so it does not effect the hydrogen concentration of the water.> 5) Isn't salt already an additive to most tap water? < No. Some waters have naturally soft acidic waters that can be corrosive to pipes. Water companies add minerals to these waters like calcium to increase the pH and make the water less acidic.> Trying to find answers to this question on the web as been fruitless. I would really appreciate your expert opinion. Thank so much! Sincerely, Marcella < Go to Marineland.com and check out Dr. Tim's Library for lots of interesting articles on water chemistry.-Chuck>

Re: Goldfish salt exposure  - 06/02/2006 Hello, Tom. <<Hi, Alfredo.>> Sorry to bother you; just a quick question about goldfish and salinity. I added a tablespoon of Epsom to my tank about 4 days ago and I was wondering if this is too long a period to expose the fish to the salt. <<Alfredo, Epsom salt isn't a "salt" in the conventional sense that we think of. We think of "salt", in aquaria use, as either calcium chloride (CaCl) or sodium chloride (NaCl). Actually, Epsom salt is Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4). It's the Chloride (in this context) that's beneficial to our fish, to a limited extent. Epsom salts don't have this element. Personally, I wouldn't expose a fish to any "introduced" chemical for longer than four or five days but, not to worry.>> Thank you for your time, Alfredo Echeverria <<Alfredo, we're on a "first-name only" basis. :) Tom>>

Epsom Salt Use ... on Plecos, Goldfish - 02/16/2006 I have an 3 year old Redcap Oranda who has been having difficulty staying right side up.  For the last week, he has begun to spend all time floating upside down at the top of the tank, except for eating time.   He will right himself to swim around to eat, but then will resume floating.  I have changed the water and the airstone.  I tried not feeding for two days.  Then, I fed frozen, defrosted peas.  He is in a 40 gallon tank with another Gold Oranda and a Plecos.  They have been together for two years without any problems.  Now this!  I want to try the Epsom salt, but I don't know if this is okay for the Plecos in the tank.  Will Epsom salt hurt him?  Thank you for any help. <Is okay with this group of fishes (South American, though some are Central, Sucker-mouth catfishes) up to an extent (still useful). You can search this under Loricariid Systems on WWM... About a level teaspoon per ten gallons should suit all here. Replace with water changes correspondingly. Bob Fenner>

Older Goldfish, salt, blindness  12/20/2005 Thank you for the info on the salt. I bought some aquarium salt from the fish store and the salesman told me it was the same as the non iodized from the grocery store. <Some are, yes> I put it in the tank. Now I wonder if I shouldn't have. I am starting to think the fish with the tumor is blind. He doesn't seem to see food, nor my hand. I wanted to hand feed him. Usually he'd dart away. Is there something I could give him in a hospital tank for his eyes? Judith <Not as far as I'm aware. Blindness in fishes has several etiologies... pathogenic, nutritional, water quality... Bob Fenner>
Salt... and older goldfish
When you refer to salt as in " Bacterial and fungal infections of goldfish are almost always indirect or secondarily caused by other factors, principally environmental or subsequent to parasitic attack. These are best "treated" with use of regular salt at the one teaspoon per five gallon rate and careful attention to aspects of husbandry (e.g. water quality). "...you are still referring to non-iodized, correct? Always? Judith <Best if this is synthetic salt mix, as in artificial marine aquarium mixes, not just sodium chloride... with iodide or no. Bob Fenner>

Bloaty Goldie - More Info, Please - 08/19/2004 I have a goldfish that we have had for a long time but just recently its started to get very bloated and its scales have come off in that area.   <We'll need more info to be able to be of much help - how big is his tank?  Any other fish with him (how many, what are they)?  Do you test for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?  If so, what are the readings?  What have you been feeding the fish?  When you say he's gotten very bloated, is he just very, very fat looking, or are his scales sticking out, like a pinecone?  Has he been pooping?  If so, what color is it?> I will do any thing to sort this out.  Please help, thank you. <Without details, the best I can do is recommend that you make sure his diet is appropriate (lots of greens - Anacharis/elodea/Egeria or other water plants available for him to munch on, blanched zucchini/cucumber, frozen/thawed peas with the shell removed, spinach....) and be VERY cautious NOT to overfeed him.  Offer him only foods of high roughage content while he's bloated; peas, daphnia, and adult brine shrimp are some options, here.  Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) added to the water at 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons will help him pass any blockage in his gut.  Wishing you and your goldfish well,  -Sabrina>

Re: Sick Fantail Thanks for your response Bob.  Unfortunately, my little fish was unable to overcome his ailments.  He did not manage to survive the 24 hours which followed my initial email to you and  I still have not figured out what caused the blister-like bubbles above his gills. <Strange... and frightening> I was so disappointed and felt so bad that the fish had suffered so much.  I was hesitant about trying to continue with my aquarium.  I explored my options and was going to adopt my algae-eater to a very reputable local aquarium store (they often take in ailing fish or fish that have outgrown their environment.  They quarantine the fish for a short period and then incorporate them in with their regular stock and then attempt to re-sell them to a good home). <Good>    I had almost convinced myself that this was the best option for my algae-eater but I buckled when I spotted a beautiful little speckled goldfish.  He is a very lively, alert  and clever fish and seems to be doing quite well since being introduced to his new home.  The algae eater also seems to get along quite well with him and the two of them are really relaxed together (which was not the case when the algae-eater was first introduced to my aquarium - he was very skittish). <Typical... this is likely a CAE, Gyrinocheilus... can be dangerous, ride goldfish in time...>   So we will see what the future holds.  The aquarium environment seems a lot more stable now and hopefully, I will not have any further problems with ailments. Thank you for the good advice.  I hope I will not have to utilize it in the future but am glad to have it as every little tip helps.  By the way, why is Epsom salt better than aquarium salt? <Mmm, depends on the intended use... Epsom is Magnesium Sulfate... one salt... whereas "Aquarium Salt" is mainly Sodium Chloride (aka table salt) and a mix of other naturally occurring salts (in chemistry, combinations of metals and non-metals) found in seawater. Epsom is best NOT used continuously.> Or are they the same thing just different packaging/price? Cheers, Darlene <Bob Fenner>

Goldfish and Salt Hi Jess here, My goldfish is laying at the bottom of its bowl and its not  moving I'm using sea salt that I got at A.C Moore, does that effect my  goldfish? <<Yes, salt affects goldfish: it can help them swim, it can help treat Ich and fungus. Don't add too much though, too much can cause problems. I recommend simply doing your water changes more often, perhaps everyday until the fish improves. -Gwen>>

Bubble-eyed gold fish I've had my bubble eyed gold fish for about a year now. Just recently I noticed one of it's bubbles had blood inside of it, and it deflated a lot. I thought it was the other goldfish in the tank pecking at it, so I removed those fish into another tank. Now that it's bubble healed, it has happened again, on it's own, the same bubble. But this time inside the bubble, is white, stone-like particles, and a lot more redness "blood." And the one pupil is dilated! What is it? And what should I do? Thank you, Kim. <Likely "broken blood vessels"... from age, previous damage. Not much to do re. You can try adding Epsom salt to the water, improve nutrition (as with HUFA and vitamin supplement addition to foods), enhance water quality. This condition does "cure" in time in many cases. Bob Fenner>

Dropsical Goldfish Please let me know if you can help.  I have a comet goldfish that is about 11 years old.  He's a great bud.  He got sick with something that is making him swell up and I can't seem to help.  I did 2 wks of tetracycline in the H2O and medicated food.  He now is floating upside down, but can still manage to turn over when he swims, but not for long.  I don't want to lose him if there is any hope.  I'll enclose pics of him that was a month or so ago. He's 2x that size now.  PLEASE help me save him.  Email me ASAP with some suggestions.  I tried the frozen pea thing already. <There may be some chance of alleviating the symptoms (edema, "pine-cone scale disease", dropsy...) by administering Epsom Salt (MgS04) baths or at this point, if this is the only livestock in the tank, adding the Epsom directly to the water (about a teaspoon per two gallons). Do keep trying to feed the peas (no dried food) or even brine shrimp if the fish will take it (frozen/defrosted or live). Bob Fenner>

Ragged Goldfish Would that be just ordinary salt that we have in the kitchen for cooking or do we need sea salt? Thanks Karen <Always use salt sold for freshwater aquariums. Don>
Fresh Water Salt 3.16.05
Would that be just ordinary salt that we have in the kitchen for cooking or do we need sea salt? Thanks Karen <Hi Karen, non-iodized salt is what you will want to use, if you have kosher/cooking salt that is the stuff. I usually use "Aquarium Salt" from the local fish store, so far the goldfish have not noticed the difference. The salt will stimulate your fish's natural slime coat and help heal the damaged fins. Best Regards -Gage> 

Salted Fish Hi, First of all, I wanted to let you know that your website has been very helpful in learning how to care for, and diagnosing problems with my fish. About a week ago I bought an Oranda, who resides by himself in a 10 gallon aquarium. Before purchasing him, I had the tank set up with the filter running for about 3 weeks. My fish seemed fine for the first few days in the aquarium (I did partial water changes almost daily to make sure that toxic levels would be low using Nutrafin Aqua Plus and having the water sit overnight, and I've been using Nutrafin Cycle), but then I found him sitting at the bottom of the tank, not moving, with his fins clamped. He would start swimming around feeding time, still having his usual appetite, but would flash and try to scratch his sides along the bottom of the tank when not resting. I did a water change, and tested the tank water, and everything seemed fine. Finally, a few days later, I managed to spot the Ich (he's a calico so it was hard to see at first against the white of his tail). I immediately started salting the tank at 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon every 12 hours (3 doses). The last dose was yesterday, and he has been swimming around the tank looking much happier than he's been over the past few days, though still has a lot of Ich, especially on his tail, and the dorsal fin is still down. Is there anything else I should be doing? Also, this morning I noticed a red mark/hole on the top of his head (it looks like blood), possibly from him trying to scratch at the Ich (there was some on his head). Should I be putting something on it? Do you know what it could be? As of this morning, the ammonia measured just under 1.0 mg with PH being 7.7, and Nitrites about  0.15mg. I will have to do a water change soon, and when I do, should I put 3 teaspoons of salt into the aquarium right away (per gallon of water I remove during the water change), or do I do it in 12 hour installments again? How long should I keep the salt in the tank for? Thank you for your time, any help is appreciated! Lisa <Hi Lisa, Don here. You are on the right course using salt to kill the Ich. But I'm not a big fan of dosing at these high levels when measuring by volume. You really should weigh it or use a refractor. The size of the salt crystals make a big difference in how much salt you are really adding when you measure this way. The proper amount of salt for a 10 gallon tank is 76 grams. With fine grain salt this is around a 1/8 of a cup. With course aquarium salt it is over a quarter cup. Big difference. Please read the two links below. The first is a great article on Ich. Please take note of the lifecycle and continue treatment for at least 2 weeks after the last spot drops. Always do water changes from the bottom using a gravel vac. Mix the same concentration of salt into the replacement water before adding it to the tank. You want the salt high, but steady. If during treatment the fish suddenly looses a large number of spots do a water change. The Ich is not dead. It has dropped off and is alive in the gravel preparing to reproduce. The second link is on freshwater cycling. It was great to allow the tank to run for three weeks before stocking, and even greater that you are testing. But unless you added an ammonia source to feed the bacteria a cycle did not start. Even if you did establish the bacteria the salt will stress or kill them. But the solution for all your problems, even the scrape on his head, is the same. Water changes with salt for the Ich. Do as many water changes as it takes to keep both ammonia and nitrite near zero. 50% daily is not out of line, even twice a day is OK if you see the spots drop. Good luck.>  http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm  

Floating Goldfish My son's goldfish seems sick.  We have been out of town for 1 month, during this time we used an automatic feeder and had someone check on the fish twice a week.  When we returned 3 days ago, I noticed that the goldfish was staying near the top of the tank.  Yesterday I noticed a few scales were missing on his upper back, today he has developed a line of dots  from his gills to his tail on both sides.  We have a 20 gallon tank, Whisper Power Filter for 20-60 gallon tank, besides the goldfish we have a sucker fish.  The goldfish is about 3 inches long, we have had him about a year.  He always seems hungry and I normally feed him once a day.  I checked the water yesterday, ph was 7, ammonia was 0.  I did a partial water change and added some aquarium salt. When I put the Spirulina disc in last night for the sucker fish, the goldfish went to the bottom after it, this is normal behavior for him.  I feed the goldfish Wardley Total Goldfish Gourmet Flake Blend.  After I put the Spirulina disc in I fed the goldfish, he ate some food, but shortly after went back to the top of the tank.  He is so close to the top, his top fin and back actually stay out of the water.  I am not sure what is wrong, searched your site and still not sure what to do.  I don't know what type of goldfish he is, he is white with an orange stripe on his back and he is the type that looks like he has a bubble on the top of his head.  I don't know whether to quarantine him, or what type of medicine to use.  I don't want to risk having the sucker fish get sick.  Additional information, when I took the automatic feeder off the tank, 2 days ago,  I noticed that the food was clogged up at the opening and appeared to be moldy,  I threw all that out and removed the feeder.  Also when I got back my air pump was not working, I fixed that yesterday.  The filter has been working great, before we went on vacation, I did a partial water change and replaced the charcoal in the filter.  Any information or thoughts will help.  Thank you very much.  Dorie <Hi Dorie, this sounds like it could be a combination of things.  In my experience goldfish usually float because of swim bladder disorders or diet related problems.  A steady diet of dry flake food, coupled with possible degrading water quality can cause a good amount of stress.  When he swims down to the bottom and then stops swimming, is this when he floats up to the top?  Does it look like he is having problems maintaining equilibrium?  I would start by adding Epsom Salt to the water about 1tablespoon per 10 gallons and weekly water changes.  You should also look into varying his diet, the addition of frozen goldfish food, and peas on occasion would be good.  Thaw out some frozen peas and pinch them out of the outer shell.  If your goldfish is like mine he will love them.  There is more information on goldfish ailments at the link below.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisfaqs.htm  >

Goldfish Buoyancy I have this cute and beautiful goldfish--don't know if an Oranda or Lionhead, but looks like one or the other.   <Well, either way, that won't affect treatment, at least.  All "fancy" goldfish stem from the same basic critter, just selectively bred for shape, etc.> I have been doctoring this little fish for over a month as he is not able to swim much topside up.  He can float on his back for a while and then struggles upright.  He looks healthy, maybe a little bloaty looking, but he has always been chubby.   <Probably ultimately a dietary issue.  Most goldfish don't get enough veggies in their diet.  Mine *always* used to get my asparagus when I was younger....  oh, how I *hated* asparagus....> I have dunked him in a high aquarium salt water bath, I have added Epsom salts, have used a Fungus Eliminator for Dropsy, but its scales are normal.   <The meds probably won't do anything for your goldfish's condition (if it is dietary), nor does it sound like dropsy.> I was treating him in about a gallon bowl as he seemed to be able to control himself better.  He has eaten the whole time, but now I got him his own 5 gal. aquarium as he seemed to be doing better, <Ahh, wonderful - goldfish are very messy fish (they poop a lot, essentially), and larger volumes of water are always recommended.  The larger, the better.> but is now floating on his back a lot.  When he goes down to eat headfirst, he kind of does a somersault and is on his back again.  I will admit, I have never tested ph et al--the 2 other goldfish he was with are fine.   <Woah - that's a *lot* of goldfish in a little space!  You might want to consider a larger aquarium to house them in, perhaps along the lines of 30 gallons or so.  Could make a nice display for the whole family in the living room, perhaps> He feeds from my hand and now lets me guide his body down to feed and hold him down and help him graze along the bottom.  He had not been pooping for the month even though he was eating all the time.   <!!  Yikes, very likely a dietary/constipation issue - almost certainly.  I'd recommend adding Epsom salt to the water, at a rate of one tablespoon per ten gallons of water (so one half tablespoon for his 5g tank) as this will help relieve pressure on him, help him pass any blockage in his gut.> Read to feed him peas and they seemed to do the trick.   <Peas will certainly help, yes.  Keep it up with 'em, use frozen (thawed) peas if possible, also romaine lettuce, unflavored sushi Nori (that's the seaweed wrapper on sushi, you can get it at Asian markets), blanched zucchini or cucumber, aquatic plants like Anacharis/elodea, as well.  Might want to try adult brine shrimp or daphnia, too, as these are very high in "roughage" content, will also (hopefully) help him pass any blockage.> He is just cuter than Nemo and I am so frustrated as to know what else to do for him.  Any advise???  Lag <Ultimately, a change in diet for him (and the other goldfish, as well) is in order, here.  Pelleted and other dry foods seem to cause these problems in goldfish.  I wouldn't cut flake and pelleted foods out of their diet entirely, just cut back some (or a lot) and give 'em lots of greens.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Salt Bath Question  Quick question - I want to treat my Oranda with a salt bath for a bacterial infection - however, I am completely confused as to what kind of salt and how much.... Marina recommended "non-iodized" salt, 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. I have read : "regular table salt" at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gal water, "Epsom salt" (which is listed as a saline laxative soaking aid on the label), "salt," and "iodized salt." HELP! Which is it, and how much...please be specific about frequency as well....i.e.: only one time? Add more salt after water changes? Also, I was told to give the fish a "bath" in a bucket filled with the salt water, then return him to his regular tank...If that is true, please advise how to do that, and for how long to leave him in there... Thanks, Stephanie  >>Stephanie, hello. To simplify things, just go to your local fish store, and buy some aquarium salt from good ole Doc Wellfish. Instructions for fish use is written on the side of the box. One tablespoon per gallon of water is fine. You will add this gradually to the tank, making sure to remove some water first, into a bucket, then dissolve the salt into it, then pour it back into the tank until all the required salt has been added. Take your time so as not to overstress the fish. Take a couple of hours. You can leave the salt in the tank for a few weeks. When you do water changes, you simply re-add the salt to each bucket of water you removed...in other words, if you removed two 3 gal buckets, you will re-add 6 gallons of water with 6 tablespoons of salt re-mixed into it. After the fish heals up, just do normal water changes without adding the salt. It will eventually all be removed. Sounds easy enough, eh? :) One more thing, if you see no noticeable improvement in your fish after a few days, you may need a medication, like Melafix, or even something stronger than that, like an antibiotic. Make sure to watch your fish closely. Let me know if his symptoms worsen. -Gwen

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