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FAQs on Goldfish Genetic/Developmental Disease 1

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

Related FAQs: Goldfish Disease 2, Goldfish Disease 3, Goldfish Disease 4, Goldfish Disease 5, Goldfish Disease 6, Goldfish Disease 7, Goldfish Disease 8, Goldfish Disease 9, Goldfish Disease 10, Goldfish Disease 11, Goldfish Disease 12, Goldfish Disease 13, Goldfish Disease 14, Goldfish Disease 15, Goldfish Disease 16, Goldfish Disease 17, Goldfish Disease 18, Goldfish Disease 19, Goldfish Disease 20, Goldfish Disease 21, Goldfish Disease 22, Goldfish Health 23, Goldfish Disease 24, Goldfish Health 25, Goldfish Disease 26, Goldfish Disease 27, Goldfish Disease 28, Goldfish Disease 29, Goldfish Disease 30, Goldfish Disease 31, Goldfish Disease 33, Goldfish Disease 34, Goldfish Disease 35, Goldfish Health 36, Goldfish Health 37, Goldfish Health 38, Goldfish Disease 39 & Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Nitrogen Cycling, Koi/Pondfish Disease, Goldfish in General, Goldfish Behavior, Goldfish Compatibility, Goldfish Systems, Goldfish Feeding, Bloaty, Floaty Goldfish, Goldfish Breeding/Reproduction,

Key Points/Notes:

  • Some genetic "deformities" are used to breed different varieties of goldfish (ex: "pop-eye" goldfish).
  • Commonly, breeding has lead to goldfish especially prone to loss of orientation. This can manifest in different ways. Sometimes the fish will float upside or sink to the bottom. If they are "sinking" to the bottom and appear unable or unwilling to swim to the top, feed with sinking pellets.
  • "Kinks" in tails and fins are usually genetic deformities.

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

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Goldfish Success
What it takes to keep goldfish healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Question about cute- ugliest "bought from Wal-Mart' in goldfish tank"       9/24/16
I'm have bein g looking for a place that maybe can help me. I got this- I t hink/not sure- baby goldfish in Wal-Mart. So far I have it on my 2 gallons emergency/quarantine jar trying to figure it out what is the best for him. He was in the goldfish' s tank and I paid as one because I saw him and he didn't look like the others so bought it to request him and see if maybe have a better chance with me. I have an extra 10 gallons tank getting ready for him so I'm planning to move him there soon. I have 2 goldfish in a 40 gallons for which km getting the materials together to build them at least a 60 gallons tank since I know they will grow bigger very soon.
<Ah yes>
In other words, space and having a bigger tank eventually for him will not be an issue. He eats, swings, goes up and down, and he is very friendly with me- let me pet him...lol...not very common in the others....my concern is how he looks, is normal? Is deformed?
<Yes; this latter... could be genetic (pre-determined) or developmental... >
One eye is pitch black and his mouth is really small- like a Betta. I'm
just don't want to gert him or do any harm. I love him already, he is very sweet and I want to give him the best care possible but I'm not even sure he is a goldfish.
Thank you for reading and helping.
<There is a high incidence of diseases of all sorts with such commercially produced comet goldfish... This one may go on to live for years in your good care. Bob Fenner>

Sick goldfish!      3/30/16
<Liz; your image files are an order of magnitude larger than we allow>
Dear Sir/Madam,
<Read my book?>
I was just wondering if you could help me please. We have had 4 goldfish (3 fan tails) for about a month now, and for the last two days I have noticed that something is wrong with 1 Gill of one of them (I have attached pictures below).
<Not new likely. This is a common genetic defect... in the worst bred variety; and only American... Comet.>
Unfortunately, as I am writing this on behalf of my parents, I do not have the parameters of the tank/size of the tank etc. to hand, however, I would very much appreciate an opinion on the following please. I have researched online and I cannot tell whether it is due to infection or possible just an incomplete gill that we had never noticed before.
<The latter almost assuredly.
Otherwise a physical trauma.... from a house cat? Power filter? At any length, not something "to treat". May live a good long while as is>
It looks red with a bit of white" fraying". The other gill is fine and there hasn't been any attacks from the other fish to my knowledge.
Any guidance/ideas would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick goldfish!       3/30/16
<Liz; your image files are an order of magnitude larger than we allow>
<<My apologies, I have tried a different photo but still may be too big>>
>Ah yes; phone pix. We unfortunately are limited to 50 megs of incoming mail storage. Past that, all get bumped<
Dear Sir/Madam,
<Read my book?>
<<I'm sorry, I don't quite follow what you mean? I assumed the website would have a team responding to questions therefore I did not know who I was writing to>>
>Ah no; sorry for the obscure Beatles referent... "Paperback Writer" starts with "Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book"...<
I was just wondering if you could help me please. We have had 4 goldfish (3 fan tails) for about a month now, and for the last two days I have noticed
that something is wrong with 1 Gill of one of them (I have attached pictures below).
<Not new likely. This is a common genetic defect... in the worst bred variety; and only American... Comet.>
Unfortunately, as I am writing this on behalf of my parents, I do not have the parameters of the tank/size of the tank etc. to hand, however, I would very much appreciate an opinion on the following please. I have researched online and I cannot tell whether it is due to infection or possible just an incomplete gill that we had never noticed before.
<The latter almost assuredly. Otherwise a physical trauma.... from a house cat? Power filter? At any length, not something "to treat". May live a good long while as is>
<<No cats, may be filter but it looks like the gill "cover" is completely missing, rather than it being damaged through trauma so I agree possibly genetic defect>>
>Heritable trait/defect<

It looks red with a bit of white" fraying". The other gill is fine and there hasn't been any attacks from the other fish to my knowledge.
Any guidance/ideas would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
<<Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to respond>>

A mystery... GF beh., genetic issue?        12/5/14
Hello! I have a rather specific question, and I have searched the board a bit and haven't come up with a sufficient answer. I appreciate your time.
I have a 55 gallon tank with an AquaClear three-stage filter in the 40-70 gallon size. It's not a live-planted tank. I have one 12 inch bubble bar across the back on one side. I change 25% of the water once per week, vacuuming the gravel at that time. During the day it's lit with "daylight" LEDs, at night it's lit with "moonlight" LEDs. It's been established since September, and my water quality is steady with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 8.3 pH (I know a little on the high side, but quite steady), and 20-30 ppm nitrates. Temperature is steady around 72 F. I use a dechlorinator, aquarium salt at 1tbsp per 5 gallons, and Stress Coat occasionally as directed. It's stocked with one 2 inch Oranda, one 1 inch fantail, two 2 inch Ryukins, one 3 inch leopard sailfin plecostomus, and one 4 inch Ryukin, whom this question is about. I feed twice a day. I choose from a variety of freeze dried brine shrimp, flake food, Emerald entrée frozen omnivore cubes, and peas occasionally. I also feed the Pleco zucchini or other fibrous veggies once weekly, and he has two large pieces of boiled Malaysian driftwood with which he is totally obsessed. To clarify, I don't feed a mix of all of these at the same time- I rotate them. I learned a while ago not to overfeed, and do my best to follow the three minute rule.
All of my fish are bright and very interactive, they occupy all levels of the tank- they don't just "hang" at the top or bottom. They're such a colorful, wonderful show! They come to the front to say "hello" (and beg for food, the little weasels!), and are generally totally delightful. They do not pick on each other at all- no nipping, fighting, or aggressive behavior of any kind. They have ample hiding places and caves to sneak into if they feel threatened. I feel as though they're satisfied and quite happy. However, after water changes, the 4 inch Ryukin has taken to lying on the bottom of the tank, utterly motionless, for about two or three days. She will still come up to feed, and she seems pretty "normal" while eating. This has occurred after every water change since we moved her to this tank in October. She does have an unfortunate history of spending a little time in an uncycled tank last May due to her owner's lack of understanding of aquarium cycling. She always is the most listless of the goldfish even on her good days, but most of the time, she's at least swimming around, not looking stressed out at all, and interacting with us just like everyone else.
I apologize if this has been covered in a previous post. I searched the site and didn't discover the answer I was looking for. I enjoy your site, and have used it as a relatively new hobbyist and value it immensely. Any input or advice as to why she acts like this after water changes will be earnestly followed. Thank you in advance!
<Hello Jessica. My guess here -- and it's only a guess -- is that the Ryukin has a deformed swim bladder to some degree (all fancy Goldfish do) and in this case it is sensitive to changes in water temperature as well as making it difficult to swim even on a good day. As you hopefully know, gases expand and contract with changes in temperatures, so a gas-filled bladder will get bigger in warm water and smaller in cold water. If you change the size of the swim bladder, you alter the ability of a fish to swim. Normally such changes are so slight they don't affect the fish, primarily because the swim bladder is the size and shape it is meant to be, and evolution produced a swim bladder with some ability to work across a range of temperatures. However, fancy Goldfish have deformed swim bladders because we messed around with their body shape through genetic manipulation (i.e., selective breeding). Net result: such fish are less perfectly poised to begin with, and small changes to the size and shape of their swim bladder has a much bigger impact on swimming ability. Goldfish are what are called "physostomous" fish, alongside other relatively primitive groups such as tetras, barbs and catfish. These have the swim bladder (which is essentially a highly modified lung) connected to the throat. To add air to their bladder they need to gulp air through the mouth, and to empty the bladder a bit they need to burp out air through the mouth. Until your Ryukin is able to do either of these to compensate, it'll either sink or float depending on the situation. Obviously if she can't easily gulp air from the surface because she can't swim easily, it'll take her longer to properly adjust her swim bladder. But regardless, in an aquarium no real harm is done provided the fish can breathe and feed normally. Taking care to avoid water temperature changes so her swim bladder doesn't need to be re-set too often, and boosting the amount of fibre in her diet to avoid constipation that causes further swimming problems, are probably the two key considerations here. Cheers, Neale.>

Oranda with curved spine(RMF, thoughts?) <<Same as before... env., genetic>>    3/2/13
Hi Crew:  
<Hello again Gina,>
My 10 year old Oranda has slowly developed a curvature to her spine- it is close to the base of her tail and it causes her to preferentially swim in circles in the direction of the curve. It is a gentle curve- not an injury and has been developing over a year. My water is as follows:
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 10
PH ranges throughout the year from 8.5 to 9.2

<This is very high… likely a factor. Goldfish like hard water to be sure, 10-25 degrees dH is fine, but the pH should be no higher than 8.5, and ideally around 7.5-8.0. Is there any way you can mix your tap water with RO or rainwater, maybe 50/50?>
RedOx is waayyy too high at 356
I feed the fish home made gel food with stabilized vitamin C, Spirulina, carrot, spinach, kale, red pepper, zucchini, shelled peas, garlic, yam, salmon fillet, acidophilus powder, kelp powder. All veg are organic and are steamed in bottled water then blended and then vitamins, gelatin etc..  added.
<In and of itself, organic doesn't mean a good diet, but the range of foods you're offering is very wide, so I think we can rule out dietary shortcomings, a very common reason for developmental abnormalities.>
I have a probe in the water to ground stray voltage. All the traditional causes do not seem to apply. The fish also has floatation issues but only immediately after she eats- she starts to float right away and is back to normal about half an hour later.
<Which points the finger here at changes to the shape of the digestive tract and/or position of the swim bladder brought about by the spinal curvature. As food moves along the digestive tract, centre of mass changes, while centre of buoyancy stays constant, so the orientation of the fish will change.>
I can't find anything that seems a likely cause unless I am not providing adequate nutrition with the home made food or there is a persistent bacterial infection. The fish does have a very mushy belly near the vent- I have tried 10 days worth of Baytril intraperitoneal injections which did nothing but stress me out every time I had to inject the fish (the fish was fine with it all). I use home made food because the fish is so large that I can't find a suitable sized sinking pellet. Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated.
<There really isn't any advice here. Spinal deformities are impossible to treat. Indeed, you may not need to treat, assuming the fish is otherwise happy, e.g., can feed adequately and doesn't get picked on by its tankmates. Maintain good water quality, ensure a good diet, and generally keep an eye on this fish for any signs of suffering.>
I religiously maintain the tank with 2 x weekly water changes (about 25% with Prime treated water that has say for a couple days). I have a serious problem with brown algae- not sure why but all 4 of my tanks are rife with it and I have trouble controlling it. I am not sure if this ties in but I thought I would mention it just in case….
<Algae doesn't normally cause health problems for fish, but rampant algae can indicate problems with water quality and/or water chemistry. Review these, and act accordingly. Given how high the pH is in your tanks, I do suspect water chemistry is a factor. Can't comment on the specifics without at least knowing your general hardness (degrees dH) and ideally the carbonate hardness (degrees KH) as well.>
Thank you!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Oranda with curved spine (RMF, thoughts?)<<>>   3/10/13

<<The usual: genetics likely, perhaps pathogenic disease, nutrition...>>
Thank you Neale- great to hear from you- your advice is always invaluable!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
As a matter of fact I do have an Vertex Aquaristik 100 gallon-per-day RO unit available- it is not operational but after your reply I promptly ordered a new membrane and cartridges and just installed them tonight. 
<I see.>
When I used it before, it was only reducing the pH to about 7.8 at best (I guess that it better than what it is at right now).
<And well within the comfort zone for Goldfish, which do best between pH 7 and 8.>
I had also purchased a pressure tank that was specifically made to hold RO water. I stopped using it as the membrane became damaged and to be honest, I was not sure how to properly use RO in a freshwater tank. I had been mixing it at a 50/50 ratio with tap water (which brought the pH down to about 8).
<Which is fine and usually safe.>
I had some concerns about the aggressiveness of RO water and was not sure why my pH was still so high after filtering.
<Removing some of the dissolved minerals rarely lowers the pH below 7, what it tends to do is lower the pH from 8 or 8.5 down towards pH 7.5. If you remove all the minerals you should get around pH 7, but stably acidifying the water to, say, pH 6.5, is a whole other thing. You need to add an "acid buffer" for that, and unless you're breeding soft water fish, it's not worth the effort. Halving the hardness of VERY hard water is, on the other hand, a very good idea, even if the pH doesn't seem to go all that low.>
I used a 50/50 mix of RO to tap as I wasn't certain if it was safe to use straight RO.
<Never use straight RO water. Always mix with some hard tap water unless you have the knowledge and skills to add appropriate soft water buffering salts (often sold as Amazon buffer or Discus buffer).>
The high pH of the RO filtered water seems to suggest that the water is still quite mineralized but without sending a sample to the lab I don't know if the proper minerals are present.
I currently sit my tank change water in a 205 litre holding tank that is made of food-grade plastic but it is not safe for RO water. I tried to find a 205 litre container that was RO safe but they would be a special construct and very expensive. I believe that remineralizing the water would make it safe to sit in the container, but again, I am not sure if this is even necessary.
<Storing RO water in food-safe containers should not be a problem. Or, as Bob would say, "read, don't write…"
This has been gone into many times, here and elsewhere.>
Regarding remineralization, I have Wondershells and Seachem Replenish that I purchased along with the RO unit for the purpose of remineralizing the water if needed.
<Wondershells are pointless if you [a] already have moderately hard to hard water and [b] are keeping hard water fish. All they are is lumps of calcium carbonate that slowly dissolve, raising the carbonate hardness (KH). If your KH is above, say, 5 degrees KH, this isn't needed.>
I don't know currently the degrees dH of my tap water as my test kit is not working for some reason- I added 50 drops of the reagent and no colour change.
<Seems to be you have no general hardness. Do try again though, or have your retailer test a water sample for you.>
The last time I tested (about a year ago) it was 9 degrees. The KH of my tap water is 6 to 7.
<So, moderate carbonate hardness; fine for Goldfish.>
I have been using Phosguard to try to reduce phosphorus in the water- I suspect my algae problem may be in part to the homemade food as it breaks down in the tank quickly if the fish misses a piece and this is one of the reasons I do twice weekly water changes with gravel vacuuming. I bought a RedOx meter which shows a reading of about 350- my admittedly vague understanding of RedOx and goldfish is that ideal RedOx is in the order of -110. In short, I know my water chemistry is off and I think that I have the components I need to correct it but my know-how is shaky! I am going to flush out the new filters and then I will test the kH and pH of the RO water- if it needs to be remineralized I would be interested to know what products you suggest and if I am on the right track with the RO water.
<Would suggest no products…  just reading. Start here:
…and follow the links.>
PS you gave me advice a couple years ago on a small, weak little black moor and I am pleased to report that he is still very much alive and quite a bit larger now!
<Ah, good to know! Neale.>
Re: Oranda with curved spine (Bob, am I being unfair to Goldies?)    6/30/13

Hi Neale:
Flash forward to the end of June- the Oranda is still upright and is still voraciously hungry but half way through the Baytril treatments she began to pinecone (that was about a month ago). I was surprised that she developed Dropsy in the middle of treatment, especially since the Baytril had worked to stop her from bobbing around upside down at the top of the tank. The vet ordered some Oxytetracycline to try- one intramuscular injection every week for three weeks. It helps for 2 days after the injection (the scales flatten and the swelling reduces noticeably) but then the Ascites returns.
Her gills are still a healthy red colour. Oddly enough her wen has been growing like crazy the last few months- she looks great except for the swelling and the scales.
I am armed with 1/2 dozen bottles of clove oil if she shows signs of being in pain (which I assume will translate into not eating and being inactive) but I am heartbroken at the thought of euthanizing this very much-loved 10 year old fish.
I have the tank temperature at 30 degrees and I reduced the water level, added a second Eheim canister filter and another powerhead. I have 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons of Epsom salt in the tank. I'm not sure if this is in any way relevant but I don't have any aquarium lighting (haven't had for about 8 months since I had a fire scare with a canopy-style light removed them from service in all my tanks): I am saving for better and safer lights.
Right now the fish is not on antibiotics as her last Oxytetracycline injection was a week ago. I have gel food with Kanamycin and Metronidazole in it but have not used it since I am worried about their effect on the kidneys. I have been changing 50% of the tank water twice a week.
Have I really tried everything?
<Yes. I think you are doing all you can. At some point it becomes a cost/benefit calculation, and if the fish remains sickly, and especially if it isn't interested in feeding or socialising, it may well be time to "call it a day".>
I am having a hard time trying to reconcile the fact that I am probably going to lose her in the next month or so and knowing that I have done everything I can will help.
Thank you, Neale:
<Sorry we can't offer any silver bullets here Gina; do think you're doing your best for this fish, especially with regard to help from the vet. Hope things improve though! Regards, Neale.>

Goldfish fin curl, and algae 1/22/12
Hello Crew,
I have a couple questions regarding a goldfish tank I've been having problems with, but first I'll give a brief description of where I am and how I got here.
I recently decided to rent a house, and upon moving in we discovered the owners of the property graciously left us a bottle of wine with several wine glasses, some plants and flowers, and a fish tank containing various types of goldfish, with another small fish that I've been having trouble identifying.
<Mmm, send along some well-resolved pix as attachments>
Accompanying the fish tank was a small note saying "We couldn't take the fish with us, if you don't want them feel free to flush them."
The fish were completely neglected under the care of their previous owners, and I've never had a tank of my own, although I've always had some interest in learning the hobby, so I've been rushed into trying to care for them. There were 6 fish total in a 29-30 gallon tank, 5 of them being, I believe, various types of goldfish and the small, unidentified, hyper one.
<Mmm, this is or will be (w/ growth) too many... I'd give away a couple, three. Craig's List is a good tool here>
The filter media was completely black with no spare filters to be found, and dumped a good deal of nasty looking goop into the tank when we opened it up. We ended up replacing the entire thing with a Tetra 20-40 power filter. Along with the new filter I've been changing the water weekly with a gravel vac, purchased test kits for pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates, and have been trying to do as much research as possible to keep the remaining fish healthy.
One of the goldfish died a few days after we moved in, another obviously had a swim bladder infection, and it died a few days after that. That was about 6 weeks ago, and since then everything has appeared to be okay, but now I've noticed algae growing on the gravel, and on the tank ornaments.
<Not to panic... this does just happen>
Some scum or algae grows on the glass but I scrape it off every week with water changes.
In addition to the algae, one of the fish's top rear fins has begun to curl over at the top within the last week. Another fish I find seems to be slightly struggling to swim, and often lies at the bottom of the tank on his belly, and sometimes seems to be gasping and shakes his head rather violently while swimming. I've read 2 goldfish articles on this site, and yesterday ordered a pump, air line, and will be purchasing a bubble wall to help with aeration and circulation. One of the articles recommended 20 gallons per goldfish, which I am obviously not supplying, so I'm aware of this issue also. Testing indicates somewhere between 0 and .25 ppm ammonia, 0 nitrites, about 2 ppm phosphate, about 20 ppm nitrate, and a pH of 7.4.
<Mmm, all but the ammonia are fine>
I've included some links to pictures I have uploaded to fileshack, showing the overall tank, the algae on the gravel with a bit scraped off, the fin curl, and the fish I haven't been able to identify (hard to capture, he's hyper). Thank you for any help or advice you are able to give with these issues.
<Mmm, these pix aren't opening for me... Please do continue w/ the maintenance you list above, and your reading, and send these images as attachments here when you have time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Goldfish fin curl, and algae 1/23/12
Bob and crew,
Thanks for your reply and suggestions. Here are the pictures again, uploaded as attachments this time upon request. Do I need to do anything to the gravel to remove algae?
<Mmm, no; not really>
I've read somewhat conflicting stories of cleaning gravel because of the danger of removing beneficial
<Well, one can "over-clean"... especially larger grade (as here) substrates. I would only vacuum half the tank per period... let's say the right side this week, left the next>
Included are pics of the fin curl (best I could capture),
<This is not problematical. Simple genetic/developmental expression... "natural">
the gravel with some algae scraped off, the fish I can't identify, and the entire tank.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>

Please help my Lionhead! 12/7/11
Please help me identify this disease!!!
I am writing with a very serious problem and I need help fast. My 2 year old lion head suddenly presented with 2 black spots on her head- they appeared yesterday morning. She doesn't have much of a wen yet- it is just developing. The spots are about 2 mm x 2 mm- I took her out to inspect the spots and they are holes! I put a bit of hydrogen peroxide 3% on a Q-tip and swabbed the hole yesterday and it was fairly shallow. Tonight it is much deeper. It looks like the beginning of HITH disease but the hole is lined with black. She has also developed black "smudges" on her sides and her tail has black streaks. It looks like she is smudged with charcoal! The black smudges on her sides have gotten worse since I noticed them yesterday. There is a black moor in the tank with this fish and I can't tell if he has black smudges because his colour would mask anything if it were present but I don't see any holes or depressions in his head or sides.
<I see>
The tank is a 50 gallon. It has been established for 2 years and has three filters.
Ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0, nitrates are 10, pH is 8.2 and I have a UV sterilizer. I have not added anything new to the tank. I always change 30% of the water once a week and I use a dechlorinator. Please, I have had fish for several years and I know that this is NOT ammonia burns. I can't find any references to black spots of this kind anywhere on the internet. I am very scared at how quickly the holes have deepened but there are only two and one is worse than the other so I know if I act fast I can save this fish. I need to know what I am dealing with so that I can treat correctly!!
Can you help me identify this before it kills my fish?
<It's highly unlikely this is a biological disease... i.e. infectious or parasitic... Given the age of the fish, your maintenance... no mech. for introduction. The environment is also not likely at fault here, given your upkeep routine. Instead, I suspect this is some sort of "growth" of the fish itself... Melanocyte stimulation... let's say, like "hormones" and pimples in human teens. No treatment advised, or necessary... perhaps improving, enlarging the diet... I use Spectrum pellets exclusively for my fancy goldfish, and have for... about a decade. Please see WWM and elsewhere on the Net re this brand>
Tonight, when I inspected the holes I dabbed very lightly with peroxide again and then I dabbed on some bio-bandage. I also added 1 tablespoon of salt per every 5 gallons of water.
<I would not do any of these; and would stop... More damaging than not>
I took pictures yesterday but they are really washed out and the black holes don't appear as dark or as large as they do in real life. They were taken last night and the holes in the head are about twice the size now and about 2 mm deep as well. Please, please help me!!
Thank you!
Joanne C
<Again, not to panic. Bob Fenner>

N. Alabama, need Vet to trim Oranda wen from eye 5/21/11
I live in North Alabama (Huntsville/Madison County) and recently purchased some exotic goldfish from a reputable local pond supply/Koi retailer.
<I too rank them as such on the basis of your stmt. re their selling high end/cost fish>
One is an adorable calico Oranda with a very developed wen. Unfortunately, the wen completely covers one of the fish's eyes (the other eye is clear).
Given the popularity of Koi/Goldfish ponds in this area, it never crossed my mind that I would be unable to find a veterinarian within the northern region of our state that would accept a healthy goldfish for a relatively simple procedure (but not simple enough for me to attempt since the eye is completed occluded). The pond store where I purchased the Oranda sells Koi that range to up to $15K in price; they had a $1200 Ryukin the day I was there. So I was stunned when I contacted them for a Koi/Goldfish veterinarian referral and they said no area vets accepted fish as patients. Can you image paying $15,000 for a fish, with no health care plan?
<Heeeee! I can't imagine paying such money for even a human... w/ or sans health care plan (which BTW I lack as well)>
I called every exotic pet vet and clinic in our Yellow Pages, and came up with nothing. I also checked with local pet stores and aquarium shops; nothing. Do you have a database, or word of mouth, on vets in my area that might be willing to perform this procedure, even if they don't advertise fish care as part of their practice?
<I do not, but know where I'd look/ask next. The closest (geographically)
"pond society"... Otherwise, I will tell you, having done such "cut jobs" myself that it's not that hard for you to DIY>
I'd actually be willing to use a fish enthusiast experienced with this procedure if I knew how to find one; I've seen several impressive "amateur" videos of this procedure on the Internet.
<Oh! Again, do talk yourself into doing this procedure yourself. Bob Fenner>
Someone suggested I contact Auburn University's School of Veterinarian Medicine. Auburn is at least a 4 hour drive from here, so I'd like to exhaust all other options before I take that path.
Little calico (I'm still working on a befitting name) can see fine from her one eye now, but her wen, and that of my other 4 Orandas, will have a continuing need for trims, so finding a competent local resource is important (they are all in aquariums, btw, not in my Koi pond). And how else will that store ever sell their $1200 Ryukin?
Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

GF, dissimilar size eyes 9/20/10
Hi there,
I have a new pet goldfish (her name is Giselle), this is my first fish ever!
<Welcome to the ever-fascinating world of aquatic life keeping!>
When I chose her at the pet shop, I noticed her one eye was larger than the other however when I enquired the lady working there, she said it was nothing but a 'defect' that fish can be born with, and she is totally normal.
<Can be>
I followed correct procedures before placing her in tank, however when I eventually let her into my tank, she seemed very 'slow' and when she swam, swam 'on her side', also just lay still at the bottom of the tank a couple of times.
I started researching about goldfish, just to broaden my knowledge, and by chance I came across a page about diseases where I read for the first time about pop eye. I immediately assumed this is what she had. Could it be anything else other than pop eye?
<Yes... quite a few possibilities>
I started reading more about pop eye (thats where I came across your site, which is *BRILLIANT* by the way) So I put her in an Epsom salt water solution, hoping it would drain the liquid or make it smaller, as I had read, but it has been two days and her eye is still the same size. I must add though she is much more alive though and seems very happy. She is swimming properly and also eating (which she didnt do in the beginning), its just the eye still bothering and worrying me.
<I would not be concerned>
Will it ever go down just with the use of Epsom salts?
<Could be genetic, congenital... a defect as we've both mentioned. In which case, no... it will not change>
Is she in any kind of danger due to having pop eye?
<Likely not>
Thank you so much (in advance) for taking the time to read and respond to my email.
<As time goes by, with growth, familiarity, the disparity in eye size will lessen. Bob Fenner>

Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update. 8/4/10
Neale...I think I have successfully moved Butch into his new 30 gallon tank with 280 over the back bio filter.
The glass tank is so much bigger than what I had before that there were structural integrity issues with my stand. It's made of steel and very heavy, I have no idea what is but I found it on the side of the road in the industrial area of Seattle.
If you can picture sitting a rectangle (tank) over an oval of steel and while the front and rear are all supported the corners are not. I knew what I was doing when I filled up the tank (the first time) that way but I was so paranoid about losing the fish I just did it. I have since corrected this issue buy putting a very nice piece of wood underneath to support those corners.
<OK. But do be aware that most woods will warp over time, especially when subjected to the heat and moisture of an aquarium.>
Now that I have this big beautiful tank can I ever expected my fish to get better?
<Yes, assuming water quality remains good.>
He eats regularly, his tail is mostly free of the blood streaks, his eyes have just a very faint white spot with no more popping in fact when I look at the Popeye pictures I saw via WetWeb well he was never that bad.
<All sounds promising.>
The thing is he still sits in the corner tail bent over most the time but when he swims he swims very fast. I know it's my fault and I will probably need to just live with the disability I may have caused but it is possible he will get better with time. He still seems to swim very wonky like he's slightly paralyzed on one side. I will be happy to send some photos if it would help and if you have the time to advise.
<Fish can, do suffer from things like paralysis and strokes. Just as with humans, they may get better on their own, or they may not. There's not very much you can do beyond ensuring a balanced diet and good water quality. Yes, a photo would help.>
For my tank, I just put your standard ferny like plant in
<Java fern is good, but the "Umbrella Fern" Selanginella wildenowii is not an aquatic fern and will die, ruining water quality as it rots.>
and a rock I am told will add some alkaline to the water.
<Possibly, but as algae and bacteria cover the rock, this effect will be reduced. Pretty pointless, really.>
The duck weed does not appear to be doing well which appears to be the opposite of what I normally read about. I also made
sure to use all the same water from the ten gallon tank and the rocks. Obviously I still have a lot to learn and am also looking into getting a good book on goldfish/tank health.
<Hmm "looking into" should be a bit more positive. You SHOULD own at least one good aquarium book. Used books on Amazon cost pennies, so there's no real excuse not to have one. See here for some ideas:
I would like to get more plants and maybe a little buddy for him but should I wait until the tank is cycled (which I need to read more about)?
<Don't add any more fish until the present one is healthy. As for plants, I'd get a clump of Indian Fern; it's a floating species, very easy to grow, edible, and helps improve water quality.>
Many thanks from all the way over here in Seattle.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update. 8/5/10

I hear you on the wood and am aware of it.
The fern I mentioned, I'm fairly sure is Hornwort but I will also look for the Indian Fern as you mentioned and hold off on another fish.
<Hornwort is a fine alternative to Indian Fern, and a better choice for unheated tanks in some ways. The only downside is that Goldfish don't tend to eat it, so it doesn't provide the extra fibre and vitamins that Indian Fern does. But still, it's a great plant and a useful oxygenator if provided with strong light.>
Last night he was more active than I have seen him in the 6 months. I checked the water at 6pm and my levels were: Nitrite .25ppm, Nitrate 0ppm, Ammo .50ppm, PH 7.6 maybe slightly more.
<OK, the nitrite and ammonia aren't good, so there's a good chance your filter isn't working properly. That you have non-zero nitrite levels implies ammonia or chloramine in the tap water aren't the key problems here. If you have zero nitrite, but the same non-zero ammonia level in both tap water and aquarium water, it's often a problem with your tap water supply best handled through use of appropriate water conditioners. If you have nitrite in the aquarium, that tends to imply a biological filtration issue, since the nitrogen cycle is clearing working part-way through.>
So I did a 25% to 30% water change and got the Ammo down to .25 an hour later.
I am confused as to letting the water cycle and changing it. Am I correct that the water changes must continue while the tank is cycling?
<Yes. Indeed, it's essential, otherwise ammonia and nitrite reach levels so high they stress the fish.>
I've read so much on WetWeb that after awhile (as I'm sure you hear) it all starts to meld together.
<Well, yes, that can happen.>
What confuses is me is allowing the levels to spike and then right themselves naturally and how that happens if you're constantly changing the water.
<What you're aiming for is a balance between providing ammonia and nitrite for the two kinds of bacteria, whilst also keeping the ammonia and nitrite levels low enough they don't harm your fish. You also need to remember
this: if you have fish in the aquarium, there's a constant source of ammonia, and in turn of nitrite. So any ammonia or nitrite you detect with your test kit is ammonia or nitrite *the bacteria aren't using*. At that precise moment, it's surplus, wastage, doing nothing but harming your fish.
You can dilute it without problems because there's more ammonia and then nitrite coming along from the fish, like a conveyor belt. In fact the more you dilute it, the better for your fish. This is different to using a fishless cycling method where you add, say, 5 mg/l ammonia at 8 AM in the morning and that has to last the bacteria all day long until the next dose the following morning. Fishless cycling methods are big daily doses one at a time, while cycling with fish involves constant supplies of much smaller amounts of ammonia. With me so far? In other words, you can dilute the ammonia and nitrite in an aquarium being cycled with fish as often as you want because there's no set concentration of either you're trying to maintain. Instead you're actually trying to remove whatever ammonia and nitrite are surplus to requirements at that moment, knowing full well that the fish will be producing more ammonia all the time. An analogy might be this: giving someone a big bottle of water to last them all day, or else
showing them where the tap is. The chap with the bottle of water is carrying around a measurable number of pints he gets through during the day. The chap using the tap doesn't need to carry any water around because he has access to a constant supply. Just so with ammonia. Fishless cycling is like the chap with the bottle, and you need a measurable amount of ammonia in the water. Cycling with fish is the chap with the tap, you don't need a particular amount of ammonia in the water because there's a constant supply from the fish.>
Can you clarify what I may have already read? Ugh do you ever get tired of repeating yourself or is the re-education and the life saving gratifying enough to slog through it day in and day out? Fish must be your passion and now I understand why I (it's more technical) have become a little obsessed myself.
<Fishkeeping really comes down to growing bacteria. Sounds silly, but there it is. I guess like other microbial activities like making wine, bread or cheese. Once you understand the bacteria, everything else is comparatively
easy; if you don't get the bacteria right, keeping fish can be a nightmare.
The good news is that once established bacteria are very hardy and low-maintenance, and as engineers are learning all the time, fantastically subtle and efficient. If you think about what your filter is doing for maybe 4-5 watts of electricity, it's staggering.>
I WILL GET a couple books instead of thinking about it, TODAY in fact.
I will forward a couple pics tomorrow.
Keep up that attitude/passion Neale it's very refreshing.
<Glad you think so!>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update. [Bob, does this fish look skinny/deformed to you?]<<Yes. Likely genetic rather than developmental>> 8/5/10
Ok...now I see why I was so confused by what I read about the water changes.
And am I assuming correctly that you are not implying a failure with the filter but that it's not yet seasoned so to speak?
The wine and cheese analogy is very effective.
My only plan now is to get the levels correct for the fish and with that said my pictures of Butch, who I now may be a female, are attached.
<He/she looks like he/she has a skeletal deformity. This is not uncommon among fancy Goldfish. Can be related to diet, but is more usually genetic.
He does look a trifle slender though; Bob is more of a Goldfish person than me, so I'm asking him to chime in here. As/when the filter kicks in properly and you have non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels, you might up the
protein part of the diet a little, and let him/her bulk up a bit. I don't think he's starving though, so that's not the problem here. Just a bit on the svelte side for Carassius auratus.>
He's still stressed but I'm still hoping for at least 10 more years of at the very least comfort. IF you notice anything about my fish via the photo's please advise. You're the best Neale.
<Shame my last g/f didn't think so!>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: My Goldfish Butch.....update. [Bob, does this fish look skinny/deformed to you?] 8/5/10
Neale, as woman who dates women don't you fret.
<Thanks to a 'fridge full of cheap white wine, I generally don't.>
It's very hard for females to deal with smart, exact, precise forms of intelligence with all the messy, emotional minding reading issues we have.
<I'm glad I didn't say that!>
The bigger issue could be REAL HONESTY. We claim to want it but can't really handle it. I can but again I am not your average female.
<Oh gosh, I should tell you of a female friend of mine dating a 40-year-old man who I swear operates like a teenage girl. Everything has to be talked about for hours, and the slightest thing causes resentments that surface
weeks later. Makes no sense to me.>
As far as the diet he/she is now on veggie flake food in the morning and around 6pm he/she gets 3 to 5 peas and blood worm. Lynne
<As I say, once the filter beds down, add some more protein-rich stuff to his diet, perhaps goldfish flake in the morning, veggies at night. Cheers, Neale.>

Swim Bladder Infection? Goldfish 06/09/10
Hello Crew,
My name is Dawn.
<Hello Dawn,>
I have a 20gal. tank with a Marineland BioWheel 200. I had previously had four comets in that tank but recently after much reading on your site, donated them to a local botanical garden park where there are many ponds with Koi and goldfish.
<I see.>
I figure this would be a better home for them than my twenty gallon (I also didn't want to take them back to the pet shop so they could be sold as feeders).
Back to the my question, I have one Fancy goldfish left (a Calico Ryukin named Pepper). I adopted from the pet store (Petco) six to eight weeks ago. The reason he was not sold to me because he has a swim bladder infection.
<Almost never really a swim bladder infection. It's worth mentioning neither of my fish health manuals mention this disease. Have you ever heard of Kreislaufstörung? It's something Germans worry about endlessly, devoting huge amounts of time to recuperating from, but it doesn't actually exist. Swim bladder disease in fish is the same. Rather, it's a way aquarists (and seemingly shopkeepers) describe fish that are, for one reason or another, not swimming properly. Likely causes including constipation, exposure to toxins, or systemic bacterial infections. But the swim bladder itself is just an empty bag of air, and not very likely to become inflamed or infected.>
I was in there one day looking for dog stuff and wandered over to the fish department where I see this fish sitting on his tail. It is quite comical. He sits like a Buddha and waddles when he swims vertically. He did not seem to have any disease and looked clean. He is also a very stronger swimmer given his condition. I found the store manager and asked about the sitting goldfish and he said that the fish had been that way for at least 6 months. No one would buy him because of his sitting on his butt all day long.
The manage then told me that if I wanted him he would adopt him to me. I went home to think about it and decided I'll check back in a week to see if it is true the fish is "surviving" like this. Sure enough, he was alive and seemingly healthy aside from the waddling back and forth with his belly forward. I agreed to adopt him and took him home.
<Almost certainly, this fish is either constipated or deformed. Fancy Goldfish are prone to problems with constipation because of their deformed spines and distorted swim bladders, so even the slightest blockage of the gut can cause all sorts of swimming problems. But "belly sliders" are also common among farmed fish, especially deformed ones like Fancy Goldfish. If the swim bladder is the wrong shape, too small, or not properly inflated, the fish cannot swim in midwater easily.>
After much research I found that he could have a tumor, genetic abnormal growth, constipation, swim bladder infection, etc.
I have tried a fast of peas, medication (Melafix), changing his water 35% of water every other day, no pellet food, moth balls and other live plants for him to munch on. I don't want to medication him too aggressively and because from is strange swimming pattern he eats, swims, rests, plays and pretty much is "normal", no sores to pimples and even gets along with the comets when they were around.
<Indeed. Would take care not use anything abrasive on the bottom of the tank though. Ideally, leave it bare, with black paper or something underneath to limit reflections. Otherwise soft silica sand would be ideal. Why? Because the scales at the bottom of a fish aren't meant to support the weight of midwater fish, and they're easily abraded, especially around the anus and fins. Damage can quickly become infected, and that leads to sickness.>
The pet shop also tried treating him (with what they did not say/ or I remember them saying) before adopting him to me. My water conditions are Ammonia-0, Nitrate-0, Nitrite-0, PH-(I don't know but I use Zehpirhills Spring water to change their water and nothing else)...
<Not all spring water is ideal. Unless you have soft water, then ordinary hard tap water that has been dechlorinated is absolutely ideal.>
I want him better
<Don't think that's going to happen...>
but I also have been running his water with an all natural no chemical approach aside from putting marine salt
<Marine salt? Why?>
and plant food in there every water change. I would really appreciate any suggestions. Thank you so much for your wealth of information. ( I spend hours at work when it's slow reading your FAQS page. P.s: sorry for grammatical mistakes I didn't catch.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Swim Bladder Infection? 06/09/10

Hello again! Thank you for your response.
<Glad to help.>
As to the substrate, I have a combination of gravel (mostly pet shop brand) they are smooth surfaced and larger than the small bits you usually see with the generic blue gravel.
The Marine Salt I guess is overkill since I was afraid he would get stressed out from my squishing around in his house every time I change the water.
<Largely pointless.>
Also I have a few live plants, driftwood and rocks from Lake Malawi, the rocks have algae on them and he like nibbling at that. Should I throw a couple handfuls of sand in to line the bottom?
If so, how would I go about vacuuming and cleaning the tank to keep the sand from falling through the gravel? I feed him anything from peas, bloodworms, shrimp, seaweed, and as I mentioned before all the decorations
are live plants. I also have another question, I have the Marineland BioWheel 200 (turnover 200/hr). Is that too many current for a 20gal. tank?
<It's a lot, yes. For Fancy Goldfish, turnover rates 6-8 times the volume of the tank per hour is about right, towards the lower end if the fish can't swim well. But if there aren't any obvious problems, I wouldn't worry.>
I also just bought a Fluval U3 (turnover 160/hr if I can recall) and is planning to put it into a new 40gal. tank with the BioWheel along with a Pleco and two more fancies. Are my aspirations obtainable?
<For a 40 gallon tank, you want a cumulative filtration rate (i.e., with one or both filters attached) of a total of 6 x 40 to 8 x 40 gallons per hour, i.e., 240 to 320 gallons per hour.>
Since I have read on the sight that for goldfish the turnover rate needs to me 6-8 times the volume of the tank. However even with the BioWheel 200 for the 20 gal I find that if I don't change the water every other day the
ammonia goes up.
<Do check the filter is [a] set up properly and [b] has lots of biological media. Don't waste space with Zeolite or carbon for example. Really all you want are sponges and/or ceramic noodles.>
(I secretly wonder if my mother is feeding them when I am not home.)
I work full time and go to school. I also have a golden retriever that needs just as much care and attention. So if there's any way to limit water changes to just once a week or less I would be more than overjoyed to learn about. Thank you again Crew for all that you do. I appreciate you spending the time to answer my questions.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Swim Bladder Infection? 06/09/10

WHOOPS! not saltwater aquarium salt- freshwater salt. Haha you must think I'm trying to kill my poor fish. I use the Aqi freshwater salt (1 table/5 gal?)
<Likely does little good or little harm.
Freshwater salt doesn't raise the pH and hardness, which is something Goldfish appreciate. On the other hand, Goldfish tolerate sodium chloride quite well, so small amounts of what is basically cooking salt won't harm them.
Cheers, Neale.>

AHHHH! NEALLLLEE!!!!!!!! -Pepper is playing dead and my blood pressure can't take this! 7/2/10
Hello again Neale,
(I do SINCERELY apologize for writing you again so soon)
<No worries.>
I have a few questions (still reading the web site everyday) just to make sure I've carried/carrying out the correct procedures. I'm not too confidant on my diagnoses of what's going on yet also as far as tank size I am 99% sure I am doing everything correctly.
Researched, water change, water tests, 2 filters, vacuum, nutrition, water conditioner, temperature, live plants, love, attention, not to mention gooey talk....
<Gooey talk?>
I got home from school today and Pepper (the one we decided had a genetic problem with his swim bladder and is waddling around the tank discombobulated) was upside down suspended like he had croaked and went to
fish paradise. My heart stopped and when I dashed to the tank he "woke" and acted as if nothing was the matter.
<I see.>
I am waiting a couple of hours for the water I conditioned yesterday to hit the 24hr. mark so I can do a water change. Do you think I should do 25, 30, or 50 percent?
<Unless there's a good reason to do otherwise, I'd stick with 25% on any one day.>
I did a water change yesterday (about 30%) I didn't fill it up as much as I usually do because I ran out of water that I know for sure is safe and conditioned. There is about 3-4 inches left from water surface to the rim of the tank. I also took out one of two 10gal. Aqueon (older filters from another tank) filter and put in a Fluval C2 (119g/h turnover rate and it can a flow adjuster that I turned to min. so that the fish wouldn't be tossed around and there would be less chance of saturation in the small tank- 20gal.).
I rinsed out all new media before putting it into the filter and onto the tank. I just did a water test Ammonia -.50 (high, thus the water change is a bit),
<Yes, but would still only change 25%, or at most 25% twice during the day, with at least 3 hours between the two water changes.>
Nitrite- 0, PH 8.2 (from tap but I'm leery about messing with it and also the fish have not yet seem to be bothered),
<A pH of 8.2 is fine. Goldfish are MUCH happier with high pH levels than low pH levels. In ponds, pH can go up to around 9!>
Nitrate- 0. This is test results from 5 min. ago. I fed them this morning with cooked lettuce and peas mixed together.
Yesterday they had a veggie frozen food mix. The day before that they had blood warms and Omega One goldfish flakes. I've been doing 2 water changes a week and have been keeping the older filters in until I algae growth
(yesterday) then I switched the filter to the biggest size possible and am planning on leaving the smaller older one on with ammonia removers in it only until I get a bigger tank.
<Any filter media that says it is an "ammonia remover" is Zeolite. This is not what you want here. Zeolite is for hospital tanks. It needs to be constantly replaced and/or recharged. Even in a small aquarium with tiny fish it's expensive to use compared to biological media. Instead, focus on having mature biological filter media: sponges and ceramic noodles. Don't waste your time with Zeolite or carbon.>
I use NutraFin AquaPlus to condition the tap water (both chlorine and chloramine). However the gallons of water that leave out for more than a week start to turn green (the water).
<Algae; harmless.>
I figured that since I leave them outside the sun has something to do with algae growth???
I used it because I figured that algae (green) is healthy.
<Well, yes, up to a point.>
This is also yesterday. I was going to write you and ask about it but I didn't want to abuse my privileges and know that other people with dying fish need your time.
<Not a problem.>
I also read WWM everyday like I said so I thought I could eventually find something that pertains to the issue of green conditioned water. I don't know if this is a big factor. (I am wondering if I should test the green water. Stupid me I should have.)
<It's really not a huge factor. Any reason you can't use the conditioner on fresh tap water? If you have hard, basic water out of the tap, then simply adding water conditioner should make it INSTANTLY suitable for use in aquaria.>
I hose off the feces and junk stuff from the filters with the garden hose.
<Whoa! Treat live biological media like you would a fish. It's JUST as sensitive to changes in water chemistry and temperature. Much better to empty water from the aquarium into a bucket, place the filter media in there, squeeze or rinse the media to clean it, and then put it back in the filter. It doesn't need to be spotlessly clean. If you want to thoroughly clean the filter media, then clean just 50% of the media every 6 weeks by rinsing it under a lukewarm (aquarium temperature) tap in the kitchen.>
I also read on the site that this is not a good thing to do that I should rinse it with old aquarium water instead but I stopped doing that because it was not getting cleaned and there is A LOT of gunk on the filter anyhow (filter works with the gunk I check every time I do a water change by the way). Did I goof up here?
<Yes. Do read about rinsing media under the tap, above. That's what I do. The chlorine won't kill all the bacteria, and provided you're only cleaning HALF the media that way, the remaining half will quickly make good any damage.>
I let everything sit out and dry off
<Argh! No NO NOOOO! Drying = dead bacteria!>
before I put it back into the filter. I don't know what Pepper's issue is.
All I've read indicates that most "wobbling and upside down scare your provider to death" types of behavior is water related. I am changing the water twice a week (even though you told me once is ample but I still saw ammonia on my tests so off go and change the water every time I find ammonia)
<Yes, but ammonia is NOTHING to do with water changes. Ammonia is about poor filtration. You're abusing your bacteria terribly! Bacteria are our friends. We have to be nice to them. We depend on them. The art of keeping fish is the science of keeping bacteria alive. Get that right, and everything else is easy.>
His fins are raised, the other two (Mandy and Cane) are doing good and seen healthy. Nothing that indicates parasite, fungus, ich, etc.. They swim and eat and beg for food. It is just today that this new symptom occurred and I am besides myself. If I forgot to mention it I also vacuumed the gravel yesterday but I will just do a water change today.
<Again, go easy with the gravel. A good stir and siphon to suck out any detritus is fine. But don't wash it with soapy water or anything like that.>
If there are any details I've left out please let me know. If you don't remember me I will gladly send the last messages back so that you can do a review. (it's Dawn, the one that offered to buy you a round -I did and I
hope you got it-)
<Yes, thank you.>
Could this be the "end point" for his deformity? I don't know and don't know where to start. Would it be more humane to euthanise? I don't know if I can even do that without breaking my heart. GOOD GRIEF
<I suspect it's a filtration rather than fish effort.>
Thank You so much again for your time and effort! I am anxiously awaiting your reply.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: AHHHH! NEALLLLEE!!!!!!!! -Pepper is playing dead and my blood pressure can't take this!
<Hello again Dawn,>
Pepper is really a Super Trooper, he's still so perky after all the abuse I've inflicted on him. I think I'm going to change his name to RamRod.
Gooey talk = baby talk- "Good morning my fine flippered friend." etc...
<I see.>
I woke up this morning and he was back to his normal dork self. He was sitting in the middle of the tank with his back to me so I am relieved. I'm sure if he could talk he would have a few choice words for me. The filter media I used before switching to the Fluval C2 was the kind with the felt squares that is shaped like a pocket and hold a tablespoonful of carbon (which I'm sure by now no longer works).
<Indeed not. Carbon has a working lifespan of about 1-2 weeks, after which it's essentially just biological media. It's actually not bad biological media at all, but there's a slight risk that toxins it absorbs can be leached back out again, so it's generally not used as biological media.>
It has plastic around the edges to keep everything intact. The felt material is really hard to clean without rubbing or "pressure washing" if you will that's way I've been hosing it off.
<Your filter should have some sort of pre-filter, typically a white pad of some sort. This is meant to trap solid waste, and is essentially disposable, though you can aggressively clean it under hot water if you want. If you're getting solid waste on the biological media you can't rinse out, then you don't have a pre-filter, or aren't cleaning the filter often enough.>
After work today I am going to stop at a couple of LFS to try and find some. The Fluval has a sponge in it but I'm going to get extras. (Any suggestions on brand names and what to look for as for a quality or efficiency?)
<All much of a muchness. The best value is usually ceramic noodles for biological filtration, plus a sponge or pad for the pre filter. But with some filters you may be locked into certain "modules".>
The tap water I use for the fish I condition at least 24hrs. Last time I attempted to use it right away it didn't turn out too good. (R.I.P Edgar...)
<Oh, okay.>
After the last time we talk I chucked the plant that didn't belong and now just have a couple in there. The rocks have algae on them and the water is always clear!
(I was proud of this because I thought I was doing all the right things to keep a good environment for them since there's 3 waste producers of dynamic proportions in a small tank. However, I think I've been doing too good of a
I have a couple of little questions. I notice that RamRod have been poop stringy clear poop occasionally. His poop has always been irregular, but I thought it was because of his condition. Like I've said he is active and seems healthy.
<Goldfish are herbivores; they produce a LOT of faeces. Unless the strings are really long, or consistently white and mucousy, I'd not be too concerned.>
One of the other fish, the Red Cap Oranda, developed a black line above his upper lip nowhere else. It looks like a mustache. (He looked like a Frenchmen.) It has since started to disappear. I'm real curious if it's color change or if he injured himself.
<May be either. Again, unless there's obvious signs of infection, wouldn't worry.>
Thank you Neale you've been so much help. I'm going to get you another round as soon as I get paid again! :))))
<Very kind of you.>
Also will it be alright with you if I write you once I am in the process of upgrading to the bigger tank?
<Sure thing.>
I wont need a lot of help I just need a trusted source of reassurance just in case I hit a bump and am in doubt to what to do (and can't find answers). I promise I wont write for every little thing! I just want someone (like my Professor) to check my work and grade my progress that I know I can trust.
<By all means do so. But do also introduce yourself to Lynn and the others over the WetWebMedia forum. Sometimes, it's nice to chat with others and share photos, ideas, and get feedback. We're always happy to provide advice here at the FAQ, but I certainly enjoy spending time on fish forums, too.>
If not I completely understand. :) Thank you again I really appreciate your help. (RamRod too).
Dawn (.^_^.)
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: AHHHH! NEALLLLEE!!!!!!!! -Pepper is playing dead and my blood pressure can't take this!

Oh! I forgot one more thing- is there a way to tell how long RamRod's life span will be because of his handicap?
<Not really. But fancy Goldfish can comfortably live for at least 10 years, and 15 years is far from unusual. Standard Goldfish usually live for longer though, typically 15-20 years. Simply being "disabled" should dramatically alter longevity assuming the fish can eat easily and avoid being bullied by other fish.>
I want him to have the most comfortable and carefree life for as long as possible.
<Indeed, why not!>
I've researched how big they can get and I want him to have that chance like all the other kids.
I'm think about putting a handicap sign sticker on the tank and starting a goldfish rescue and education organization in my area. Like WWM. What do you think?
<Oh boy, I think that's a great idea, but where to begin! There's a lot to be said about simply educating those around you. Helping out those with pet fish, and in particular educating those *thinking* about buying a pet fish.
Goldfish are wonderful pets in so many ways, with an aristocratic pedigree going back to the Chinese emperors, and yet we tend to treat them like they are disposable freebies. Anyway, you might start by seeing if there's a fish club in your city or state. There are pet rescue agencies and volunteers who specialise in fish, and again, these might be worth contacting. Sometimes even the little things can help: adding a section about what you've discovered about your pets on your Facebook page for example can get ideas across to people who'd never dream about picking up an aquarium book. So there are lots of things you might consider. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish with Congenital Birth Defects 6/1/10
I spoke to you all a year ago about the interactive 55 gallon goldfish tank that I manage at my elementary school.
<Well then, hello again!>
It contains three fancy goldfish, a redcap Oranda (Wanda), a red (Hairy) and a calico fantail (Cosmo).
There are also a few fancy guppies and nine White Cloud Mountain Tetras and a Pleco.
<The Plec and the Guppies are tropical fish, so I hope this aquarium has a heater.>
The tank is planted with Anacris (sp?) and I do a 25% water change/vacuum weekly. All of the fish are very healthy, happy and active. The goldfish are about 2-3 years old and growing nicely except for the Calico Cosmo who, I noticed when I first got him into the tank, seems to have a deformed gill plate on one side.
<Not uncommon.>
He always has to swim harder and his breathing is a little more rapid. I hypothesized that the deformed gill plate is the cause of his lack of growth.
<Damage to the operculum makes the gill lamella more vulnerable to damage and perhaps parasitic infection. But the key thing is that without the operculum the fish cannot create the same amount of suction inside the gill chamber, so the fish will have to work harder to push water through its gills. So if the aquarium gets too warm, or is overstocked, or has poor water circulation, lack of oxygen will stress this fish before it affects the other Goldfish.>
On Friday, while doing the water change, I noticed that Cosmo was swimming frantically, and spinning, and ending upside down at the top. It was a holiday weekend coming up and I contemplated euthanasia so no child would
find him dead on Tuesday morning before I got in.
<I see.>
But he is very cute and I just couldn't. So I moved him to our ten gallon hospital tank after putting in a teaspoon of salt. I added plant material to the tank and wished him well. Today he is still alive. Equilibrium seems stable but he is sitting listlessly at the bottom of the tank until someone walks up. (He might just be bored since the other tank is VERY active.) I feed veggie-based sinking pellets and parboiled spinach and peas in addition to the plants in the tank.
My question is this. We are going on Summer Break and I am here only once a week for my water change. Last Summer the fish were fine on this schedule, but is there anything else that I am missing that will help poor Cosmo?
<Very little, to be honest. Goldfish aren't happy kept alone, but a struggling fish is at risk of being pecked at by minnows and guppies, so there's a risk in mixing them. If the fish recovers and seems happy enough, you could reintroduce him to the community and see what happens -- these are social fish and DO NOT like being on their own.>
(besides take him home with me)
"Learn Something Everyday!"
<One tries.>
<Sorry I can't offer any magical solutions here. Cheers, Neale.>

GF, mysterious losses - 4/19/10
I have three 2-inch Ryukin goldfish in a 46 gallon tank. The tank has a Marineland Penguin 100 double Biowheel filter. The tank's biological filter is mature: Ammonia = 0; Nitrate = 0; Nitrite = 0; Chlorine = 0; pH = 7.1 or 7.2; Alkalinity = 40; and Hardness = 50. I have an aa-aquarium UV sterilizer. I have a bubble bar and an air stone. Temperature is maintained between 74 and 76 degrees F. The fish are fed a varied diet of Nutrafin goldfish pellets, blanched, shelled peas, and occasional pre-soaked flake food.
<I'd feed more green material... perhaps have some Anacharis/Egeria present for this purpose>
All new fish are quarantined in a fully-cycled 10 gallon tank with comparable water parameters, bio-wheel filtration, UV sterilization, and aeration with a bubble stone. They are quarantined for 1-2 weeks depending on observed behavior and symptoms. They are treated with PraziPro and Medigold before being introduced into the 46 gallon tank. When a fish shows indications of disease, they are quarantined, fed Medigold and/or treated with PraziPro or a salt bath, based on observed symptoms. I am writing because my fish do not live more than six months.
I don't know what I am doing wrong. Any advice would be appreciated. Additionally, if you know of any aquatic veterinarians who treat goldfish in the Northern Virginia area, please let me know. Thank you. Sincerely, Goldfish Mom
<Mmm... I suspect the quality of the goldfish may be a factor here. Many goldfish are genetically "weak"... I'd look for a specialty breeder, importer; for your excellent protocol and system. Do read here re:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Goldfish sel. 4/19/10

Thank you, Bob. I appreciate you getting back to me so soon! Do you recommend any particular breeders?
<Gosh, it's been so long since I've been involved in the trade... though I do keep fancies myself... I suggest contacting folks through the GSA: http://www.goldfishsociety.org/
and asking them re breeders that may be in your "neighborhood". Cheers, BobF>

Mystery goldfish illness 4/8/10
Dear WWM crew,
I have a sick goldfish and I don't know what, if anything, I can do to help it.
<Let's see...>
The fish is in a heavily planted 220 litre tank with two other small goldfish (2 and 3 inches, the sick one is about 4 inches in body length), several white clouds, several zebra Danios, 6 Corydoras panda on the bottom, 5 Siamese algae eaters (Crossocheilus siamensis) and some "algae eating" shrimp.
The tank is filtered by a Fluval 305, lit with 2 39W T5 bulbs, and stays consistently at 24-25 degrees (I have heaters set to 24, but they rarely turn on, through summer the temperature is unavoidably higher than this some of the time).
<I'd leave turned on... will only actuate (thermostatically) if the temp. drops>
The water chemistry is consistently as follows (tested with API test kits)
- ammonia - 0
- nitrite - 0
- nitrate - 15-20ppm
- PH 7.0 to 7.2
- KH 5
- GH 6
I change 10-20% of the water weekly, this seems to keep the nitrate level stable without my needing to use too much water for water changes (drought here in south-eastern Australia)
<Ah yes>
I notice no aggression in the tank other than sometimes the SAEs chase each other.
The fish are fed a mixture of Hikari sinking pellets, goldfish pellets and flake, plus the goldfish eat the plants and the SAEs and shrimp eat the algae.
The sick fish has no symptoms other than it is getting caught in the plants, or wedged into spaces between the wood and the side of the tank. So I guess that it is swimming weakly and/or has swim bladder problems causing it to be unbalanced in the water. When still it does seem to be sitting a bit "nose up" in the water compared to usual. There are no external symptoms at all.
The fish has been like this for several weeks now. I expected it to die soon after I first noticed it was sick, but it hasn't. I have moved it into a large breeding net inside the tank, which allow some swimming space but not a lot. The fish is forced to rest and can't get caught anywhere, but it can still see its mates (and indeed the other goldfish are pretty much constantly hanging around by the sick one in its pen) and has the filtered water. I could put it into a quarantine tank, but the largest I have is only 20 litres and I am not certain that this would be better: it would be more swimming space but no socialisation and possibly worse filtration.
<Good points, reasoning. I would not move this fish either>
I am, however, worrying that the lack of exercise it is now getting will be making it sicker. Every few days I let it out of the "pen" for a while but it invariably ends up stuck in the plants at the bottom of the tank after a short time, so I don't think that's very helpful.
Lacking any specific symptoms (and also given that we don't have access to a very good range of medications here in Australia), I have not medicated at all.
<Good. I wouldn't>
I am certainly starting to think that euthanasia may be the best alternative for this fish, but I don't want to give up just yet. Do you have any suggestions for anything else I could do other than what I am doing?
<Actually, no. I suspect this one fish is "just genetically gimpy"... It will either rally or not. I would do as you have... and try to be patient>
Thanks very much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: mystery goldfish illness 4/9/10
Thanks very much Bob, I appreciate your advice.
<Welcome Helen>
Just to clarify: the two heaters are plugged in all the time, but since the tank basically runs at 24 degrees unless it is unusually cold or hot in the room, the heaters rarely turn on.
I only have them there to keep the temp from dropping below the level the lights/filter heat the water to anyway.
<Ah, good>
I wish I could justify the expense of a cooler, to stop the tank getting too hot in the height of summer, but that's just too expensive, and the fish seem to be OK with it anyway, for a few days at a time.
<Actually, have seen, had fancy goldfish that were kept in systems that the water temp. seasonally was in the 90's F.... With sufficient space, circulation, aeration, not a worry>
It is certainly possible that this goldfish is genetically weak, since I bought it for all of about $3 in a pet shop at the start of my fishkeeping career (along with a 40 litre tank for 3 goldfish, don't comment, I know so much better
now - the moral is do your research before buying the animal!)
<Always a good idea... and though it is only a guess on my part... there are MANY such instances of poor heritable characteristics in this ever-popular cross, as well as several other popular aquarium fishes that have been "line bred" for too many generations>
Thanks again,
<Life to you my friend. BobF>

Bowl obstruction ? 1/24/10
<Hi Susan>
My name is Susan and Ive been using your website for several years for guidance for my two goldfish (Curly & Larry I think Moe died from a dislocated jaw, too much banging around in too small of a tank several years ago poor thing
could only open his mouth if I squeezed his head and no gravel was found in it). My two remaining goldfish are about 5years old and the live with an algae eater; Doe Doe, who is about six months younger. Currently they are living in a 55 gallon long- tank and have the Rena Filstar XP3 filter system. My goldfish were won at a carnival, so they are standard comets.
<Heeee! This is how many of use got started in the hobby>
About 2+ years ago my one goldfish started having a difficulty passing stools. Looking back I cringe at my ignorance, overfeeding them with flaked food whenever they seemed hungry, so they are quite large. I cant fit my entire hand around their girth. The past year or so the goldfish mostly live off oats (green peas binds Larry up too much) and other green veggies do also. Occasionally he steals the DoeDoes algae wafer and then its bottoms up for 24 hours or so. Over time I noticed his abdomen is lopsided, jutting out sharply on his back right end, it almost looks like he has a permanent wrinkle.
<Yes. Appears that part of the musculature is missing>
Sometimes his side becomes so swollen his scales in the area appear to hemorrhage like their being pulled off. It doesnt look anything like dropsy. The attitudes of the fish are all fine, happy, active and hungry all the time. Occasionally Larry will sit on the bottom of the tank for several days or fight to stay horizontal, but hes always social. I attribute some of this problem to his size and the swim bladder not being able to adapt to the body size, however Curly doesnt have the problem and Curly is slightly larger.
Now I just try to keep Larry as comfortable as possible without starving him.
Im hoping you have some insight to his odd torso shape.
Thank you!
<I'd keep doing what you're doing. I suspect the deformity here is borne of genetic expression, perhaps cancer at some stage... but in any case, "not curable". Bob Fenner>

Goldfish has bulged eyes 8/30/2009
Hey I have had help with my fish so I was wondering about some goldfish that we have gotten & 1 has its eyes bulged out of his head. The rest of the goldfish do not have this. Is this a disease that I need to get taken care of?
<Mmm, likely not... Most probably an expression of genetic variability... IF pathogenic, likely all others would be similarly afflicted>
& do I need to separate it form the others.
Thanks Judy
<No need to separate, but would like you to review the needs, esp. environment and nutrition of this animal. Read here:
and the linked files above. Plus, do send along a clear image if you can>
Angels on your pillows, Judy
<Maybe if they're cute. Bob Fenner>

Black Moor eye missing I have read the posting about the black moor fish with no eyes but I still need to ask about it. I have a 125 gallon tank mainly small goldfish with three small black moors, one small koi one pleco two very small Bala sharks and two larger channel catfish (against my better judgment) <Agreed!> Total of 28 fish. I love my black moor fish and it is so responsive seems very smart! Today I went to feed the fish and I noticed one of the black moors eyes are missing! I am so upset! Are they prone to this happening or was this a predatory act? <Since their eyes are "popped" out of their head, it wouldn't take much for them to lose one, either to a predator, or even bumping into something.> I of course am wanting to blame it on the catfish but they aren't chasing anyone or anything like that. I am ready to flush them if they are responsible but I can't tell what happened! <Please don't consider anything as cruel as flushing a living creature. Never mind the horrible death it could suffer, if it lived, it may grow into a very large predator that was not meant to survive in the lake or stream it winds up in, disturbing the ecological balance around it. Just return them to a LFS.> Please help me! Does this happen with black moors often? Should I separate the black moor or should I take out the catfish. Are they likely to attack others in the tank. Please help I am so upset I am rambling but I need some advice! <Goldfish with deformities like popped eyes, celestial eyes or bubble eyes are best kept together. They are not as strong swimmers, nor can they see as well as "normal" goldfish. He should be able to live out his life just fine w/one eye.> Thanks Janet <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Upside down goldfish Hi! I don't know if you've addressed this problem in your sight before but my goldfish has been acting very strangely. There are two that are swimming upside down and I don't know why. They always stay at the surface of the tank. At first we thought it was cold so we put a heating generator in the water for it to warm up because the weather was turning colder. The fish are literally in a vertical position swimming around the tank as though there was nothing wrong. I'm afraid something may be happening to them. Could you please tell me what's wrong? Anna Doan. <Yes... this "syndrome" is borne of two circumstances, genetics and diet... some goldfish varieties have been bred over generations such that they easily lose orientation... especially in face of being fed too much in the way of "dried foods"... At any length there is some discussion of this archived on the www.WetWebMedia.com site on the Freshwater subweb, under Goldfish Disease (many FAQs and Disease article on them). Your fish will likely respond positively to being treated with Epsom salt, a change in diet, possibly the addition of some palatable green plants (like Egeria/Anacharis), and maybe the lowering of the water level in their system. Please see WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish With Malformed Mouth Hi, You seem to be able to offer a lot of sensible advice to people and I wonder if you can offer any thoughts on my situation? I was given 3 goldfish and a couple of minnows (I think) and a small plec which were all living very happily together before I got them and have continued to do well. However, I noticed at the time that the smallest goldfish actually has a malformed mouth and struggles to eat very much. Over time, this appears to have worsened to the point where it is struggling to breathe and eat at all. It is noticeably smaller than the others and swims manically to try and get water moving through the small hole it now has, bless. Other than that, the remaining fish are all very healthy, have fun winding the plec up from time to time and are keen to eat (and poo everywhere!). I change around 40-50% of the water weekly, and I'm sad that the above problem is manifesting after a lot of care and attention to ensure their survival and happiness. If you have any ideas, I would be pleased to hear, but I think deep down there's nothing I can really do. Many thanks, Gavin <<Dear Gavin; I must agree, there isn't much you can do. You seem to be taking great care of them otherwise, so keep up the good work. One thing you can do is buy yourself some test kits. Ammonia should always read zero, nitrites also should read zero, and try to keep your nitrates low by continuing your weekly water changes. And remember, you can't win em all! Best wishes, Gwen>>

Sick Goldfish... environmental/nutritional We have two Lion Head Goldfish. One is white with a red head, and the other is all red. We noticed odd behavior in the white one, when it would float belly up all the time. <This is a problem with it's swim bladder. The fish can not keep neutrally buoyant.> We cleaned the aquarium, fed it peas, and gave it medicine. That problem seems to have ceased, but now, the same fish will just kind of lay on the bottom of the tank in a corner. <A fish with swim bladder problems will either be floating or sitting at the bottom since it has difficulty keeping himself even. With a fish like this It's best to feed it sinking pellets so that it will not swim to the surface and ingest air... Which will only hinder it's buoyancy more. The problem is most likely a physical one rather than medical. Goldfish have been breed with such unnatural body shapes that many fish have swim bladders that are not balanced with it's bodies shape. This fish will most likely need extra attention all it's life.> We have other fish in the aquarium, and whenever the white one goes to the corner, the other fish will kind of check it out to see what it is doing. <That's a goldfish trait... They always swim over and inspect fish that are floating or sinking. Sadly the fish do it to see if the other fish is edible. goldfish have no problems eating other dead goldfish.> I don't know if it is laying eggs or what. Also, it looks as though one of its tail fins is bent. What is going on with this fish??? <You would see male goldfish chasing female goldfish before the fish would be laying eggs. It's quite noticeable action. If you would like to learn more on breeding goldfish there are many sites and books devoted to it. A good starting point is www.goldfishinfo.com. As well as going to you local bookstore/library and looking through the books. The bend fine is most likely from the fish bumping into things. If it's not to badly damaged the fin might regrow back to what it was before.> Blessings, Lee Butler-Brown <Good luck with the fish -Magnus>

Goldfish with dissimilar size eyes Hi! my name is Karen I have a question concerning a bubble eye goldfish, he is in a tank with 3 other goldfish. we have had him for about 5 months and today his one eye as in the pupil is a lot smaller than the other? Is this a genetic thing? can that happen over night? the eye sacs are still the same size? < I suspect that your goldfish is blind in that eye. Sometimes in is genetic. Other times it may have been damaged during handling. Run a net by your fish on that side and see if he responds. There is no way to reverse the damage.-Chuck>

Panda Oranda Hi guys, <Liam> Thanks for the help you've given me in the past, and now onto business ;-) I have a query from a colleague of mine: He has a Panda Oranda which is mainly white, with brownish patches. Recently he has noticed that the head and tail of the fish are turning a yellowish colour. The fish seems happy enough, swimming ok, eating etc etc. No obvious signs of disease on any of the other fish in the tank and ammonium/nitrate/nitrite levels are negligible. The fish is being fed a regular flake mixture. <I would expand this fish's diet... not feed it exclusively on dried-prepared foods... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshfdgfaqs.htm > My immediate reaction was that it was probably a natural colour change, but any help would be most appreciated. Thanks! Liam <Is very likely as you state, a genetic unfolding... though color, health could/would be improved with a broader diet, close care as to water quality. Bob Fenner>

Orandas with impaired equilibrium Dear Mr. Fenner, <Kim> I have had 2 Orandas in a 55 gallon aquarium by themselves for the past 2 years. All has been great with water changes weekly and all ammonia , pH , nitrate levels correct. About one month ago my one large Oranda started swimming upside down and had trouble righting herself. She now stays at the top of the tank upside down. My second Oranda about 2 weeks ago almost stopped eating entirely and has lost a lot of weight. I have tried an all vegetable diet, peas, green beans, etc. but to no avail there has been no improvement with either one of them. I have tried the over the counter medications from the LFS for swim bladder disease but this has not helped either. <They almost never do> I have also tried the Epsom salts in the tank. Is there anything else I can do? I do not want to lose them and I really need help. Thanks, Kim <This condition is truly a heartbreaker... and all-too-common in "roundish" breeds of goldfishes... The best one can do is to prevent such by good maintenance and avoidance of exclusively dried food diets... once the condition occurs, placing the affected specimens in shallow water (still filtered...) adding Epsom Salt, waiting and keeping trying foods is about all one can do as far as I'm aware. Once the fish/s loose enough body fat, they often do right themselves. Bob Fenner>

Goldfish zit We have several varieties of goldfish in a 35 gallon tank. One of the fish has developed a hole in the top of his head with white stuff hanging out. It looks like a big zit. He is not acting weird. He is eating and active. Please let me know what you think this could be and what we need to do to treat. Thanks, Jeri <Could be "nothing"... the expression of a genetic, developmental order... or an (environmental) manifestation... I take it you have adequate filtration, nutrition, do regular water changes... have some water quality test gear... that all is in order there... If so, I would not worry, or add anything to the water to effect a change... will likely "clear of its own accord". Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm and the linked files at top, if you would like other related input. Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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