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FAQs on Goldfish Nutritional Deficiency/Disease 1
(...and digestive health issues, constipation)

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,

A Too-common complaint with fancy-round varieties of goldfish, is the propensity for "gas bladder" disease... often curable with low protein foods like peas, rice, less food period, and Epsom salt addition.

Key Points/Notes:

  • Goldfish need veggies/greens (partially boiled veggies, thawed frozen peas, etc.)
  • Sometimes, too much dry food can lead to constipation
  • Dropsy is a condition, not a disease. Dropsy is a build up of internal pressure that can be caused by any number of different things. The internal pressure can be caused by gas, swelling, tumors, constipation, etc. (infection is sometimes, but not always, the root cause of these problems). Whatever the cause, the fish will appear bloated, sometimes to the extent that the scales protrude and the eyes buldge.

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Please help my lovely Shubunkin!   4/24/12
Please re-size and re-send your msg. Yours here has been deleted... the image files being too large
Please help my lovely Shubunkin!   4/24/12
ETA - don't know if you managed to read the email with the huge pics (sorry about that!), but if so, please note I had written the wrong nitrate results (I was a bit panicky and did the test wrong - I thought 0 nitrate was odd!)
<Did see this; and was going to ask how rendered thus>

I have three goldfish, two fantails and a Shubunkin (i know mixing types is not ideal, but they were urgent rescues, and they came together) and my Shubunkin has suddenly become very ill. They are in a 50 gallon tank, with readings of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 5 - 10 nitrate. There was another very small fantail who died a couple of weeks ago - he had always had problems with what I assumed was constipation (they lived in a brewing barrel when I rescued them, so I think he was stunted), and for months, on and off, he would sink to the bottom of the tank and stay there for maybe a few days. Because of this I have been feeding all the fish very sparingly on pretty much just cooked peas, so it seems unlikely the Shubunkin would be constipated.
<Mmm, can't live solely on peas for very long>
After the fantail died, I did start feeding them flake once a week and they had sushi Nori a couple of days ago.
<And these don't have much nutritional value either... I suggest you feed a completely nutritious pelleted food. I use Spectrum, but Hikari and other brands are good as well>
The thing is, the Shubunkin has started acting just the same as my little fantail, only it started very suddenly, about four days ago. On Saturday we noticed we noticed he had sunk into a corner and wasn't moving, so on Sunday we changed about 30% of the water, cleaned the tank and ran one of the filter sponges under the tap. He seemed to perk up then, and started swimming around much more, only I thought he might be wobbling slightly from side to side. Then this morning before I went to work I saw him bump into the side of the tank, as though he couldn't stop in time, but as he was swimming about more, I thought he was getting better. Then when I came back from work, he was arched over on his side at the bottom of the tank (I have attached pics so you can see what I mean - the tank is not as dirty as it looks btw, we missed one streak of algae and he happened to land in front of it). His scales seem to be sticking out a bit, too, which again is like the fantail was.
He does seem to be able to straighten out and move a little bit, but it is clearly taking a lot of effort, and then he tends to flip over onto the other side and bump his face into the gravel.
<Mmm, this fish looks very emaciated to me. Too thin>
Honestly, I would have thought it would be constipation, but he is a common goldfish, and he eats practically nothing but peas! With my fantail dying so recently I'm wondering if there is something contagious and I ought to move him (the other two are fine at the moment, but so was he five days ago), or if there is something I am doing wrong that has made them both ill. If the latter, I did forget to clean the tank last week, so it was 14 days between cleanings, and it did algae up quite a lot, could that have caused something so drastic though? I really hope I haven't done this to him! The only other thing is, should I have changed the gravel? I have had them for about 10 months, and some of the gravel is that old, although most was bought 8 months ago when they got their new tank. Obviously it gets a good hoovering every time I clean the tank, but could it still be harbouring something nasty?
<Not likely, no>
Anyway, sorry for waffling on - I wanted to give you all the info possible!
Is there anything I can do for him? He is a lovely fish and I don't want him to die. I thought I'd have him for another ten years yet!
<The sinking pelleted food; perhaps some wafers as well... fed a few times a day. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please help my lovely Shubunkin!   4/24/12
Hi Bob,
<Hello Amy>
Thank you so much for replying so quickly. The only thing I could get at this time of evening was Tetrafin pond sticks, which float. Will these be ok?
<Mmm, no... not likely that your Shubunkin will be getting up to them>
Analytical  constituents are crude protein 28% crude oils and proteins 3.5% crude fibre 2% moisture 7%. I've put him in a tub on his own and held his head so he could reach a couple. Should I out anything else in? Rice maybe?
<Worth trying>
Please believe I didn't do this through laziness. I genuinely thought i was doing it for the best, and the sicker the fantail got, the less I fed them.
The vet said he was constipated and suggested peas, but I guess i took it too far and it hurt the non-constipated fish.
<I am a person of "strong intuition". You and I are both compassionate... from the Latin meaning "to bear pain with"... Your Vet's suggestion/direction was well intended>
What do you think his chances are?
<Unfortunately not good... but not zero either>
Thanks again,
<Certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Please help my lovely Shubunkin!   4/24/12

Hi Bob,
First, thanks for your kind words. I'd hate for you to think I didn't care about my fish!
<Ah, no>
As things are at the moment I have him in a Tupperware tub, with some pond sticks and blood worm floating at the top, and some mashed up rice with flake squished in at the bottom, which he is pecking at.
Should I leave him in there with the food so he can graze when he has the energy, or should I scoop it out and put more in in the morning? Should I put him back in the big tank?
<I'd leave him there perhaps for an hour, then return the fish to its tank, dump the tub out>
Sorry to keep pestering, but I don't really trust my judgment now!
<Not to worry>
Thanks so much,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Please help my lovely Shubunkin!   4/25/12

Hi Bob,
<Mrs. M>
Your advice has worked wonders! I put the fish back in the tank last night, and he started swimming around! He's still a bit wobbly and disorientated, his tail is flopped over a bit and he rests on the bottom occasionally, but its definitely an improvement! He can move from one side of the tank (1 metre) to another and although he was still curving over a bit last night, I haven't seen him do it at all today.
<Ah good>
His scales are still sticking out a bit, though. Is that from malnutrition too? Kind of like his clothes being too loose?
<Likely so>
I have bought him some Tetra Goldfish Gold Japan pellets, which sink and some Hikari Tropical Algae wafers. Are these OK?
<Ah yes>
I have put two wafers in (which he has been all over!) and a few (possibly too many) pellets, which he has eaten a few of. There are still quite a few pellets on the bottom. Should I leave these in in the hope he eats more (he likes to chew on the gravel) or scoop them out to avoid bloating my fantails?
<Leave the food in place for about an hour... then vacuum out>
I know the usual rule is no more than 2 minutes worth, but I wondered if that still applies when one fish is starving?
<Ah no>
 I also put in a plant to oxygenate the tank at the aquarium lady's suggestion, and bits of that have come loose, which he is also eating.
<This is also good>
Thank you so much for all you advice so far, it really seems to have helped.
<Welcome. B>
Re: Please help my lovely Shubunkin!    4/27/12

Hi Bob,
It's Amy again! My Shubunkin is still seeming a lot better, but I'm a bit concerned he seems to be spitting his food out. At first I thought he was just spitting pellets out with gravel, but I put him in the tub again, with no gravel and he still does it, even with flake, which surely doesn't need much chewing! He seems to chew for a good few seconds, but then spits a bit out again. Will he still be getting some nutrients from it?
<Not likely much>
Is he maybe just taking in too much at once and only spitting a bit out?
<Possibly... minnows, Cyprinids, including goldfish, don't have "teeth", but do rotate food items in their buccal cavities for trituration>
I'm hoping this is
just me overreacting, but if there is a problem I want to nip in the bud as
early as possible.
<Nothing to be done here>
Thanks again for all your help,
<W. B>

Re: Please help my lovely Shubunkin!    4/28/14
Hi Bob,
I know I'm racking up quite a thread, so I'll try and be quick, but now one of my fantails is sick! I have attached a pic of him, so you can see if he is emaciated or bloated or what, and also a close up of his scales, which are sticking out.
<... looks "depressed"... environmental, perhaps pathogenic cause/s>
He keeps sinking to the bottom (although he is hovering slightly above the bottom) and occasionally flashes his fins, like he is scared. He also is doing some clear poos (as is the other fantail, who so far is still ok), which I thought was bloat, but I don't really want to assume that now!
When he does move he is as fast as ever and doesn't seem disorientated. All the fish have been a bit skittish the past couple of days, but I thought I'd just freaked them out because I kept scooping the Shubunkin out.
I wonder if I have now overfed them?
They don't seem to be going for the pellets (I've ordered Spectrum too see if those are more appealing), so maybe I put too many in. Do I now have a starving fish AND a bloated fish?
<Do monitor water quality... perhaps you've accumulated too much nitrate...
When, where in doubt (partial) water changes... I don't think this is a biological disease... as you haven't introduced a vector in recent times.

Goldfish deaths   4/14/12
Dear crew,
Thank you very much for all of the help that wwm has given me over the years, both in the form of faqs and when I have had to email.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Unfortunately today I write with great sadness, as over the last month, two of my three lovely goldfish have died suddenly and with little warning.
<Oh dear.>
I moved house 3 months ago, getting two new 120 litre tanks to house my goldfish, a 4 inch veiltail and 3 inch black moor in one, and my big fantail in the other.
<Sounds good.>
I had little by the way of problems when first moving, some small Nitrite issues in one of the tanks, which quickly went away with water changes and careful monitoring.
A month ago, the black moor started to show signs of Finrot and streaking in his tail, and before he could be treated, began to curl up into a c shape, become obviously weak, and float on his side, within 48 hours he was dead.
<Not good.>
All water chemistry was within normal parameters, (0 ammonia/nitrite, around 10-15 nitrate and 7.7-8 ph, with a much higher natural kH than before the move, the new place seems chemically the idea natural water for goldfish.) and around 18 degrees centigrade.
<All sounds ideal.>
I do 33% water changes weekly and squeeze the filter media out in aquarium water every 2/3 weeks, there has not been any possibility for disease as there has not been any new livestock in years, and they were fed exclusively on cooked peas.
<Hmm… they do need more than just peas! By all means use peas 2-3 times a week, but also offer a variety of things, including a good quality Goldfish flake or pellet food.>

I can rule out any chemical interference, as I had not started my new job yet, and as I was in the house, regularly checked on the fish, and would have noticed if there was a chemical smell from outside. I suspected perhaps septicemia and resolved to be much more careful with any signs of Finrot in future. Last week I noticed my veiltail have some red streaks in his dorsal fin, and he was accordingly treated with ESHa 2000, a medication that Neale recommended on here.
Less than a week later, a very similar thing happened, I came in from work, and he was floating weakly on his side, and was drifting around the tank, not really able to do very much, and did not want to eat. I did a 50% water change and medicated him again. Again testing the water, the quality seemed fine, but again, he only lasted two more days and died on Friday night. I was prepared to put one death down to very bad luck, but two deaths with the same symptoms (although I recognise fish show pain and illness in similar ways sometimes and does not necessarily mean they died of the same thing) seems to be more than that. I now only have one fish left, who seems healthy enough in how he acts, but has some red staining himself in his tail. Am I doing something massively wrong?
<How long have you been feeding JUST peas? Do wonder if a nutritional problem is occurring here; i.e., a lack of some essential amino acid or vitamin.>
It broke my heart to see two beautiful, friendly, playful little creatures that I have looked after for over 5 years die like that, and I want to know if there's something I could be doing better? I realise from my trawling of the faqs over the last few days that red streaking in fins and tail can mean a lot of things, stress, bad water quality etc.
although neither fish acted stressed in any way since about a week after the move, ate normally until they started showing very bad symptoms, and as I said before, the water quality in both tanks is similarly fine. Is there anything you can recommend I do in the future, or ways to cure this staining/Finrot in my fantail other than keeping the water clean and hoping for the best?  Or anything better I could have done?
<See above.>
Thanks very much for any help you can give to me,
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish deaths     4/22/12

Hi Neale, thanks very much for your reply.
I had considered a possible dietary issue being the cause, but whilst I have fed on peas alone for most of the time, I do have flake food, and New life spectrum, which I read recommended on WWM. <Good.>
The reason why I had fed on just peas was to avoid causing digestion issues, due to a propensity for being floaty that I had noticed among my fish. I will take your advice on board and start feeding more of a mix with that, and have another in depth read of the FAQs. Thanks very much.
<Hope things improve soon! Cheers, Neale.>

Dropsy and Tail Fungus, GF, env., nutr...    3/17/12
First my basic aquarium info:
I have two Oranda goldfish in a 10 gallon aquarium (Yes, I realize that this is too small.
<And the source of the issues here...>

 This is my first time trying aquariums and I didn't
know.  They are getting transferred to a 35 gallon in about 3 months when I move).  The largest one is about 2.5 inches without the tail and the smallest is 1.5 without the tail, brought home at the same time.  The aquarium has been running about 7 months now.  My nitrite and ammonia are both right at 0 ppm and nitrate barely registers on the test kit.
<Nitrate accumulation? I'd keep this under 20 ppm>

 Hardness and kH, both read somewhat low.  The pH is just over 7.  My tap water is pretty acidic, and I sometimes use just a pinch of baking soda for the entire tank to buffer it up a tiny bit (I was told this would help general health).
  There is currently no gravel, and the only decoration is a hide with no small holes or sharp edges.
They are fed a mixture of soaked/rehydrated shrimp treats and frozen/thawed/soaked peas every other day.
<See WWM re goldfish foods/feeding/nutrition... I use Spectrum pellets for my fancy goldfish... Much better, cheaper and much less maintenance trouble>

Normally they get along fine, but when it's feeding time the larger one will nip the smaller one.  When I noticed this happening, I started separating him out in a fry net during feeding, which seemed to work, but large chunks of his tail had been bitten off.  This was several months ago, and he seemed fine.  His fins were healing and even beginning to grow new tissue.  Then I came in one day to see him clamping one of his pectoral fins to his side and found that a large chunk had been torn off.
<Again... environment... the too-small system>
  I isolated him in the fry net for a few days, until he started to move it freely again.  He doesn't seem to have any problems getting around with it, and you can barely see new tissue growth.  Then, after feeding one night I noticed that he was slightly pineconed; his scales were ruffled almost like a bird's feathers.  I panicked, did a huge water change, and got rid of all the gravel in the aquarium (which is much cleaner now).  When I checked him in the morning, he was pretty much back to normal though.  That was about two weeks ago.
Last night I noticed that the pineconing had returned and his tail, which had been previously healing quite nicely, was starting to tear along the old injuries.  I thought the tearing was just from the stress of having to use it to compensate for his bad pectoral fin.  He has been in the fry net for the past two days to avoid the larger one picking on him due to him not being able to swim very well right now.  This morning, the pineconing had receded again and is currently barely noticeable.
Just within the last four or five hours, though, his tail has gotten dramatically worse.  The normally frayed edges are now sporting little white tufts on the ends, and the top of his tail (which was never even injured) has begun to erode, with the same white fuzz on the edges.  He is still active, alert, and ate well last night.  I'm setting up a 10 gallon Rubbermaid tub as a quarantine tank for him, and putting aquarium salts in it.  This was sort of an agonizing choice, since I've heard aquarium salts are good for the tail fungus, but not for the dropsy.  This thing is moving scarily fast though, so I'm thinking that's probably what's been causing the Dropsical symptoms.  I can't be 100% sure that it's a fungus, but I've had to ID fungi before for coursework, and that's really what this looks like.
Finally, the larger Oranda had a tiny spot of fungus fluff on his tail about a month ago.  It lasted for about three days, with him shaking it off and it regrowing, and then never came back.  I'm thinking that's how this got into the water.
To make things worse, I'm going to be out of town for the next week, starting tomorrow (but still able to check my email) and someone else will be taking care of my fish.  I can have them do whatever needs to be done, but they won't be able to do as much as if they actually lived here.  I know I just gave you the life history of my fish, but I didn't know what might and might not be useful.  Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
<Monitoring NO3, keeping it low via water changes (weekly), changing to better food... the larger system ASAPractical. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Dropsy and Tail Fungus (forgive me for channeling you, Bob!) <<Please do>>   3/18/12

I have a question about how much aquarium salt is okay for his quarantine tub... I saw directions saying 1 tsp per gallon, but I only used about 8 tsp for 10 gallons in the tub, since I've also seen directions that advise for less.  Is it okay to keep the salt at that level for awhile?  The fungus on his tail is already less visible, and he hasn't pine coned anymore. Should I keep them separated like that until I move and can get them in a bigger tank?  It'll be a pain, but I'm willing to do it.  I already change the water once a week (sometimes more), and I've got the person watching them doing a partial water change in the quarantine tub every day since it isn't cycled or anything. I'll try and get some of the spectrum pellets!  I haven't seen them around where I live so I might have to order them.  Thanks for the info/advice.
<Hmm… do read:
Aquarium salt (sodium chloride) isn't a cure-all and won't cure Dropsy or Fungus, and isn't much use in quarantine tanks. Epsom salt has some value when treating Dropsy, alongside antibiotics. What else… do review concentrations stated in that article, and use Google if needs be to convert from metric units to those favoured in your part of the world. As Bob F would say, "WWM is best used to help yourself"… read, don't write; all you're asking has been explained here many times before. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dropsy and Tail Fungus (forgive me for channeling you, Bob!)   3/19/12

I have spent quite a lot of time already reading a lot of the material on both WWM as well as other websites, and had seen some conflicting information (as well as had a hard time finding specific articles).  I was recommended the salt as a fungicide by some
<Is not a fungicide
. For a start, marine fish can get fungal infections -- albeit rarely -- and they're swimming around in salty water all the time!
Now, it is true that strongly brackish water can treat some fungal infections, but by the time you've raised the salinity high enough for this to happen, most freshwater fish will be dead, or at least severely stressed.>
and told not to use it on other websites.  The impression I got from your first message was that all I should do was monitor the NO3 levels in my tank,
<NO3 is nitrate. Do you mean this? Nitrate rarely causes diseases directly, and in itself, isn't especially toxic, with levels as of 20 mg/l being tolerated by delicate fish (like Discus) and of 50 mg/l or more tolerated by general community fish. Do you mean nitrite, NO2? That is infinitely more toxic, and levels as low as 0.5 mg/l can cause disease, and above 1.0 mg/l most fish will be severely stressed, if not sick/dying.>
which I have been doing (got my caretaker to test today, and the levels are good), and was just curious if there was anything else I could be doing.
<Likely many things if this aquarium isn't properly cycled. Stop feeding for the first week or so. Do daily water changes for the first 2-3 weeks.
Feed minimally thereafter, until around the end of week 6, and do regular water changes through that period too, ideally every 2-3 days.
Sorry if this has wasted your time, but I had literally less than one day to find answers before I had to leave town, so not a huge amount of time for research.
<Everyone has limited time, Lora, and everyone has priorities. The irony is that by reading a couple articles on salt use and new aquaria, you'd actually get the information you need faster that waiting on a reply to your message. Obviously we enjoy writing these messages (usually!) or we wouldn't volunteer. But at the same time, what'll work best for your fish is reading before you start fishkeeping and having at least one aquarium book *at home* that you know will have been written by an expert and proof-read by an editor, two things you can't be sure of with web sites.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dropsy and Tail Fungus (forgive me for channeling you, Bob!)   3/20/12

Yes, I meant NO2, the levels of which are 0ppm in the main aquarium, which is cycled and has been running for just over seven months.  Sorry about the typo.
<No problem. Occasional brilliant insight is all part of the service!>
I know this doesn't have anything to do with the treatment, but I spent roughly four hours that night looking through forums and Google before I sent an email in to this website.  I couldn't find anything that was specific to my problem; People were recommending one thing for fungus, another for dropsy, and many of the articles didn't pertain to goldfish in particular, so I didn't know how well some of the treatments would work on my fish.  It was not a question of me not wanting to look up the information, but of me not being able to find information that I felt was both pertinent and reliable.  Sorry, it just seems that you got the impression that I didn't or wasn't willing to put time into looking these things up, when in reality I sent that email after several days of forum postings on other sites and quite a bit of frantic, last-minute research on the topic.
<Fair enough.>
I will be investing in a book.  I didn't even think about that.
<Good. There are many titles dedicated to fish health; the "The Interpet Manual of Fish Health" by Chris Andrews and others is a good balance between readability, accessibility and depth. Used copies cost very little.>
Regardless, the fish passed away this afternoon.
<To bad.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Rolling-over Comet; RMF, anything else spring to mind? (was: Wonder Shells)<<No>> 11/23/11
Hello, I was wondering what may have caused on of my comet goldfish about 8 inches long , 11 yrs old, to start becoming constipated, I have been dealing with it about 1 month or so now, I see him sitting at top of tank in a horizontal position a lot and this is when I know he has problems, he will swim funny some too, so I give him a cooked shelled crushed pea and he will then poo and it is a lot, has a lot of mucous in it and floats to top, I can get it out very easy. then he is fine, he is actually good after I give him the pea, today I noticed after giving him half a pea for 3 days he actually passed some of the pea??
<Not unusual.>
He eats good and acts fine otherwise, should I just make sure he eats a pea every night, I feed them in the morning but by evening I do this with the pea, just concerned with giving it every night??
<Sounds to me, Cathy, that this comes under the head of "just one of those things". Wild Goldfish are mud-sifting herbivores, and they're adapted to a diet that, in terms of bulk, contains a lot of mud and indigestible matter.
They sift a lot of this out before swallowing, but some is swallowed, and along with all the cellulose within the plant material itself, they end up having to deal with what we'd consider a gritty, muddy sort of diet. So, evolution has given them a gut that handles that sort of thing well, but captivity and the sort of diet we normally provide them -- flake -- means that they're not dealing with anything like as much indigestible material.
The bottom line is that without enough fibre, they're prone to constipation, and in Goldfish this often reveals itself through odd swimming angles. Think of them as having extra weights inside their gut that cause them to roll over like an unstable boat.
You're doing all the right things, but you may choose to go further: feed exclusively greens, e.g., peas and pondweed, except perhaps offering high-fibre wheat germ pellets once or twice a week.>
Also wondered if I can use a double outlet aerator for my tanks,
<So long as the water currents produced aren't buffeting fish around the tank, you're probably fine. Avoid supersaturating the water with oxygen though: if bubbles stick to the fish, to the glass walls of the tank, etc., you're overdoing it.>
I would use the one aerator base divided into two twenty gallon tanks, right now I am using Stella 40 and don't seem to put out enough for them, I added another to each tank today, added 20-30 along with the one they have already Stella 40, it is making nice bubbles and they seem to like it, don't know if this is okay or not, don't like having to use extra plugs, this is why I want to know what size pump can I buy with double outlet for them, Also does increasing air hurt them or the water parameters??
<Nope, not as such.>
I am leaving for a bit and want to make sure all is good for them while gone and of course in general
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Rolling-over Comet 11/23/11

Thanks so much I feel better, Looks like the one that always sits at top is now staying all over, might have needed the extra air! I will see later, anyhow as far as I can tell with using 4 air pumps, 2 in each tank rated for a total of 60 gallons, they are in 20 gallon tanks, no buffeting, I might need a bigger aerator pump?? I want one with two outlets to avoid using all these stones and plugs!!
Thanks again
<Air pumps need maintaining. When did you last replace the diaphragm? If the air pump has been running for a few years, the rubber diaphragm could have perished to some degree, so the "puff" from this air pump would be much lower than it should be. New diaphragms are inexpensive and easy to install, at least for the good quality air pump brands. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Rolling-over Comet 11/23/11

So no matter what I buy (rating for air pump to aerate) I don't need to worry about over doing it with too much oxygen, as long as I watch for bubbles on the glass or fish? So they cant really have too much air??
<No. The fish don't like bubbles. So be sensible. Aerators don't add oxygen to the water. So more bubbles DOES NOT mean more oxygen. Here's how air stones work: As the air bubbles rise, they pull water upwards with them.
This helps circulate water around the tank. Moving water from the bottom of the tank means oxygen is better distributed around the tank. But here's the thing: filters and powerheads can do this better than air stones. That's why you'll find modern fishkeepers don't use air stones that much. It's often better to add a small extra filter, and thereby increase water quality as well as oxygenation, than to spend the same amount of money on an air pump, tubing and air stones. In many ways air pumps are a hangover from the past. Useful, yes, but not necessarily the best way to improve circulation around the tank. Much better to ensure your filter provides good turnover rates, which in the case of goldfish, should be around 6-8 times the volume of the aquarium per hour, e.g., 330-440 gallons/hour for a 55 gallon aquarium.
Cheers, Neale.>

Fantail clear poo 7/10/11
I have recently acquired some goldfish that I unfortunately know very little about. The circumstances are that I work at a letting agency and some tenants moved out of a house, leaving behind four goldfish in a bucket. Fortunately they also left a tank (full of dead guppies when we found it), so I took home fish and tank and am looking after them as best I can - a lot more complicated than I first thought, but I have got very attached to them and want to do what's best for them.
As far as I can tell there are three fantails and a Shubunkin (the Shubunkin is pretty chilled out though, and doesn't bully or hog the food).
One of the fantails is very small (2 inches minus the tail), and without knowing anything about him I've no idea if he's a juvenile or really stunted. The other fantails are at least twice the size. For the past three days the little fantail has been doing long strings of poo with clear sections in it, which I'm a bit worried about. I read that it might be overfeeding, and have not fed the fish for the last three days, but all that has happened is that the poo is now completely clear. Another weird thing is that he only seems to do it in the evenings. Finally, and possibly this is unconnected, I've also seen him swimming vertically a few times. I didn't think this was a problem, as he seems to get about OK and doesn't do it very often, but I've heard people talk about 'vertical swimming' as a thing to be worried about.
I've checked ammonia, chlorine, nitrite, nitrate, hardness, and pH and everything is normal. The tank is on the small side at 14gallons, but they will be moving into a new 60 gallon one as soon as I have finished the fishless cycle.
I have attached a photo of my fish and, um, his poo, so you can see what I mean. Would you be able to tell me if there is anything wrong, and if so how to treat it? Would I need to separate him before treating him? Also, if you can tell whether he is young or stunted, I would like to know that too.
Sorry for such a long and rambling email, but I don't really know what is relevant and I don't want to miss anything out if it will help him!
<Hello Amy, and thanks for deciding to take care of these abandoned animals. Generally, transparent, stringy, pale faeces from Goldfish indicate nothing terribly serious beyond constipation. This is easily remedied by providing more fresh green foods and less dried food. The classic food for Goldfish in this regard is plain vanilla pondweed, as sold in pet shops by the bunch. Put in the tank, don't feed the Goldfish otherwise, and the Goldfish will graze on this stuff quite happily.
Alternatively, things like blanched lettuce, cooked spinach and cooked peas work just as well. After a week or two of just green foods, fold in flake and other dried foods into their diet perhaps 4-5 days per week, the other meals being fresh greens of one sort or another. You can buy high fibre goldfish foods -- often called wheat germ or winter food -- and this can be used instead of flake if you find your Goldfish constantly producing excessively long and stringy faeces. In any event, read here for more on diet and basic care:
It's unlikely your Goldfish is sick in any serious way, and odd swimming is likely caused by constipation. It's best to keep Goldfish together rather than to try to separate them out into hospital tanks because they're very social fish, and kept singly get unhappy. Maximum length for fancy Goldfish varies significantly, and growth rate, though continual through life, slows down as fish mature. So if a fish isn't kept well initially, it may never reach full size, even if moved into spacious and healthy quarters. Even so, you should expect even "small" Goldfish to get to about 15 cm/6 inches within 3-4 years. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fantail clear poo 7/12/11
Hi Neale,
Thanks so much for your advice. The fish have been on a pea and cabbage only diet for the past two days and have been doing some *extremely* healthy looking green poos! I never thought I would become so obsessed with goldfish poo...
Thanks again,
<All sounds very promising. Good luck! Neale.>

Re: Fantail clear poo 7/26/11
Hi Neale,
I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago about my little fantail fish and his clear poos. I have been feeding him only vegetables (peas, cabbage and courgette) for the past two weeks, but he still keeps getting long strands of mucus hanging out of him.
<If the fish is otherwise healthy, don't worry too much. Fancy Goldfish are sometimes prone to chronic constipation.>
Also, he was acting in a worrying way for a couple of days last week - he kept swimming to a couple of inches below the surface and then just floating there.
<Odd, but may be indicative of warm water this time of year (less oxygen in warm water); water quality issues (check nitrite is still zero, and do a big water change, perhaps 50% and see if that perks him up); or water chemistry problems (Goldfish generally dislike acidic conditions).>
Then his head would sink down so he was vertical and he would just hang like that for ages. Also he kept doing big gasps and his fins would stiffen (is this fin clamping?). But that only lasted for a couple of days and he has been fine for about a week now. I change half of the water every three days while they're in the small tank, so maybe that helped?
<Goldfish become steadily more prone to "malaise" in small tanks, and short of upgrading the tank to something sensible, there's no real cure.>
Could the mucus be a parasite or something, or should I just stick to the greens-only diet until it goes away? He does seem fine otherwise, but I am a bit worried about the mucus, as he has been like this for a while.
Also, is it ok to leave a cabbage leaf in the tank until it is all gone?
I have given them a cabbage leaf a couple of times and they shred it in about two hours!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Intestinal prolapse - please help! 7/5/11
I am so sorry to bother you again but my fish woes seem to happen all at the same time even though my fish are in different tanks.
My beautiful two year old Demekin has prolapsed intestinal tissue (it looks like a opaque white bubble). This happened about 8 months ago to my young black moor and the fish did recover (albeit with lingering balance problems).
<Not an uncommon situation unfortunately>
I have moved the Demekin's tank mate in with another fish so that he won't be pestered. I have turned out the light and have added Epsom salt at 1 1/2 tablespoons per 10 gallons. Is this enough Epsom salt?
Is there anything else I can do?
<Good water quality...>
I am afraid to try feeding the fish a pea for fear that it will not be able to pass and will rot in the gut.
<Pinch/squeeze off the outer shell; no worries>
I just did a water change and gravel vac yesterday so the water is fresh.
I managed to get a photo- it's not the greatest but it was difficult to hold the fish and the camera at the same time. It does not show well but the prolapse extends about 2 to 3 mm. I am sick with worry... thank you again for your patience and your help.
<Patience here. Bob Fenner>

re: Intestinal prolapse - please help! 7/5/11
Thank you Bob:
I tried a small, chopped pea but the fish is on the bottom of the tank and isn't interested in eating. It is opening and closing its mouth regularly but is not fin clamping. The prolapse has not gotten any worse over night, which is heartening. It looks like a clear, whitish bubble- I will monitor and hope...
Do these things often resolve or is the prognosis otherwise?
<Almost always the former w/ simply good care, time going by>
Thank you- Gina
<Welcome Gina>
re: Intestinal prolapse - please help! 7/5/11

Hi Bob:
When I returned home from work today the prolapse had turned from clear to reddish-purple and the fish is still on the bottom of the tank and opening and closing his mouth at a moderate and continuous pace. I know I need to have patience but is this a normal progression for it to get worse before better?
It looks unbelievably sore.
How long would it take to tell if it has a complete obstruction?
<If the animal is still excreting ("pooping"). B>
Worried: Gina
re: Intestinal prolapse - please help! 7/6/11

Wow- what a quick response. The fish hasn't eaten in three days so I can't tell (nothing in nothing out). I will wait, then...
Thanks again, Bob.
<Welcome Gina. B>

Intestinal prolapse worse- HELP!!! 7/6/11
O Bob...
It is no longer a time for patience. Please, I MUST do something for this fish if there is any chance at all that I might save it's life. It is still gasping and the prolapse is worse and now: I can no longer see the anal port as it is obstructed by swelling.
<Epsom Salt, MgSO4>
There is no chance that the fish will eat- I looked through WWM for other cases and some suggested to feed Metronidazole but this is not an option.
Would Met in the water help in any way?
<No. Toxic, of no purposeful use here>
I know that people have tried to relocate the prolapse and one man aspirated successfully but these don't sound like good options- desperate measures perhaps. I would do anything to save this fish- he is not looking very good at all and I am just beside myself...
Bob, are either of the above even viable options? Is there any chance that aspiration might help clear the blockage enough to allow feces to pass or do I have to consider euthanasia?
<... I would not>
I am a wreck just thinking about it...and I have to be at work in less than an hour...
I attached a photo of the prolapse today.
Most sincerely: Gina
<As sincerely, RMF>

re: Intestinal prolapse worse- HELP!!! 7/6/11
Okay, Bob..
I will keep adding Epsom salt but I think I may have to euthanize. The fish was swimming frantically sideways just before I left for work then righted himself and was sitting on the bottom. I am terrified to do so incase he might recover but can't leave him suffering, either.
Okay, I am typing this at work and will start to blubber like a baby any second now... so thank you again for your help!
<Don't give up hope Gina. "Saying no" closes your mind and heart to infinite possibilities. B>
re: Intestinal prolapse worse- HELP!!! 7/7/11
Thank you for you kind words and advice. I am very sorry to say that the little fish did not recover. He died while I was at work. I am very heartbroken- he had real character and was trained to do several tricks.
Two years ago I would have thought fish were boring and rather prosaic but now I know better.
Gina de Almeida
<Sorry for your loss Gina. BobF>

Black moor with digestive troubles 1/15/11
Good evening/morning:
I have a two very small black moor goldfish in a cycled 20 gallon tank.
Though they are fed a diet of homemade gel food which is made mostly of fresh vegetables it seems one has developed a digestive problem. The fish in question is the larger of the two and the fastest swimmer: he often reaches the food first.
He has developed what I think might be a prolapsed anus, which I understand can result from a large intake of food and can result in a bacterial infection. The prolapse is not severe, but as of this afternoon the area circling the vent looks very red as if it were bleeding. I have added some Nitrofurazone to the water and do have some Metroplex that I can mix with the gel food if you feel this would help. The fish is active, happy and still eating but the region looks very sore. The fish is also showing slight beginnings of fin rot along the edges of his caudal fins.
When I first purchased this fish (about two months ago) he had long, white stringy feces which I treated with Metroplex. I am wondering if I halted treatment too soon and this might have contributed to the prolapse?
Is there anything else that I can do for this fish or anything I should watch for? He is sharing a tank with his mate as they have been together since I purchased them and if the fellow is contagious it is already too late to quarantine.
I normally change a small portion of the water two to three times a week and will resume doing so once I have completed treatment with the Nitrofurazone. I have also taken steps to preserve the cycled media by removing it during treatment. Any advice would be gratefully received!
Thank you for your time and assistance:
<Hello Gina. A prolapse should recover under its own steam given good conditions. Antibiotics will fix the immediate problem, and Epsom salt may help speed up recovery. But otherwise there's very little you can do.
There's a photo of a prolapsed anus here, about halfway down:
It's worth remembering the prolapse isn't a disease, but a symptom of a bacterial or microbial infection of the lower gut. Metronidazole and one of the Nitrofuran medications will provide the best combination here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black moor with digestive troubles 1/15/11
Thank you Neale, for both the advice and the photo link.
I guess I didn't clear the infection completely the first time. I will commence with the Metroplex at once. Is it safe to employ Epsom salts while treating with medications?
<Not just safe, but recommended in situations like this. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black moor with digestive troubles 1/21/11

Hello again, Neale:
Thank you for the advice- the prolapse and the bleeding seem to have healed up but the fish is still exhibiting signs of an internal bacterial infection. I have completed the cycle of Nitrofurazone: I am still adding Epsom and using Metroplex. I stir the into food paste and feed directly to the fish. It has been 5 days now and there is no sign of this internal infection clearing.
<I don't know this Metroplex product; what's in it?>
I had this trouble before when I tried to clear the same type of infection (characterized by long, white, trailing feces). I had the fish on Met for about two weeks and it seemed to clear up somewhat but the problem was not fully resolved.
<Metronidazole is that standard medication for Hexamita, which is the disease that usually produces long white faeces. But the white faeces are merely mucous, a sign the gut is being irritated. Worms might do the same thing, in which case an antihelminth will be required.>
Is it safe to keep the fish on Metroplex for longer than two weeks or should is there a better medication?
<Should be harmless, but do consult the information that came with this product.>
I do like the Metroplex because I can feed it to the fish directly: I have host of other meds including Medigold, which I don't like as the pellets are so hard, even after soaking.
Many Thanks:
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black moor with digestive troubles 1/22/11
Thanks, Neale:
The Metroplex is Seachem's new name for their Metronidazole so as you say it should target Hexamita. It doesn't actually say how long one can use the product safely in one treatment cycle, tough. I can write to them to find out.
You mentioned antihelminth meds- do you have one that you recommend?
<If I recommend them at all, I recommend people get advice from a vet, because it helps to get the right dosage for the body weight of the fish concerned, and not all work equally well. But in the US at least there are over the counter options. Among the drugs used to treat fish are Levamisole, Piperazine, Praziquantel, Fenbendazole and Flubendazole. Of these, only Praziquantel and Flubendazole are widely available as over-the-counter medications. Examples of medications including either Praziquantel or Flubendazole include Sera Tremazol, Solupraz and Wormer Plus. Antihelminths do not necessarily kill the worms, and in some cases only paralyse them, which results in them being pushed out of the gut and
into the aquarium (which the aquarist will see as the pink or white worms emerge and detach from the anus). Within 24 hours of medicating the substrate should be thoroughly cleaned to remove the worms. Normally three treatments are required, each one week apart. Ideally, throw out the old substrate at this point and replace with new.>
Thank you:
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Black moor with digestive troubles 1/23/11

Hi Neale:
Ah, good! I do have several of the medications that you mentioned in my fish medicine cabinet- though I am reluctant to treat the fish unless I am sure that it needs the meds. Should I continue to treat for Hexamita and if the fish still presents with trailing feces try the antihelminth meds?
<I'd finish one course of medications, wait a week so the fish can recover a bit, then start the next.>
I should mention that the fish has a tank mate who is not symptomatic (so perhaps it is not worms). I haven't separated the fish as they were purchased together so anything contagious is apt to be shared.
I am actually in Canada and sad to say there is only one vet who treat fish in the entire province of British Columbia- he is actually retired but is on call for the Vancouver Aquarium. I know several marine biologists which does not help much. Sadly, most people here don't want to spend the money on small animals or fish. I am pretty much on my own for diagnosis and treatment so I am very grateful for this wonderful website. It has been an invaluable resource and I have to say that I have often given advice to people in the LFS who are having trouble with their goldfish when the staff at the store could not help. I always direct people toward this site and its excellent articles.
<Glad we've been able to help, and thanks for the kind words.>
Regarding treatment of the fish, I do have a decent postal scale with which I can weigh him if I need to calculate dosage. As I type he is staring at me, awaiting his morning feeding so I have to say his appetite has scarcely been affected throughout this ordeal! As I am on day 7 of treating with Metronidazole I will continue for a full course but if the problem still persists I hope you will not mind if I seek your assistance yet again
<Feel free!>
Thank you, Neale:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fish with blockage in throat or intestines 10/15/10
I have a young lionhead fish who appears to have an intestinal blockage. I believe that he ate a piece if pea that, though chopped into smaller bits, was too large for him to swallow. This occurred yesterday evening (October 13th at about 5 PM). It is now over 24 hours later.
He has not been able to ingest any food- he dives after the food enthusiastically but then cannot swallow. He ends up spitting out the food.
He also has not defecated.
I have picked him up and looked down his throat- it looked clear and I suspect the blockage is deeper. Is there anything that I could do? Would Epsom salts help?
Kind regards:
<Hello Gina. Epsom salt relaxes muscles so might help. But otherwise there isn't anything you can do here. With luck, things will improve in time.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish with blockage in throat or intestines 10/18/10

Thank you, Neale:
Just wanted to let you know that I tried Epsom salts and they did the trick- the little fish was finally able to eat today!
<Thanks for letting me know. Have fun! Neale.>

Upside down GF, reading 10/6/10
My goldfish swims upside-down at the bottom of the tank or simply lies upside-down. He/she has been doing this for the past week. The goldfish is one year old and a classroom pet. My students are anxious
and would like to have some info about what is causing this.
Many thanks
<Please have them read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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

Goldfish... fat 9/22/09
My goldfish, who is about three or four years old now, has recently got very, very fat. I have looked it up on your site, but the fish is not floating or anything like that. Other than the large tummy, it's completely
normal. My other goldfish is completely fine and they eat the same amount of food. The swelling is slightly larger on one side, and it's not round, but slightly bumpy. I'm not sure what is wrong (hence my asking you), but I'd really like the fish to look and feel healthy again.
Thank you =]
<Hello Sasha. Well, there are three likely problems here. The first is constipation. Not all constipated Goldfish float upside down! Indeed, most don't. One sign of constipation are long faecal threads ("strings") hanging from the anus. Swelling is another. If you haven't fed your Goldfish green foods, then there's a good chance this is the problem. Stop feeding flake/pellets for a while, and offer cooked peas or a bunch of Elodea pondweed instead.
Another option is simply the fish is fat, in which case, feed it less. Cut down the food, and offer the same green foods as you would for fixing constipation. After a few weeks, it should look thinner.
A third option is some type of abdominal infection, typically called "Dropsy". This causes the scales to lift from the body, so that when viewed from above, the fish looks like a pine cone. It's very difficult to treat
this, and antibiotics are usually required. Adding some Epsom salt will help relieve the swelling, but it doesn't directly fix the bacterial infection.
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Goldfish
Thank you so much =]
<My pleasure.>
I know it's not 'Dropsy', as there are no scales lifted, and it looked fat all the way around and from above, below, anywhere.
I'll definitely use your advice and feed them no pellets, just peas/planty stuff =]
Thank you!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated fantail Hi guys <Hi, Shelley, Sabrina here tonight> Thanks for being there to answer our questions. <You're welcome, of course! We love being able to help.> My fantail Co (yes I have names for them all: Mo, Co and Calico) has gradually become bloated underneath and to the sides, but more on one side than the other. The skin appears paler and stretched. This has been happening for a month or so. Just the last week he has taken to "swimming" upside down at the surface of the tank. I usually feed dry flakes, with frozen bloodworms once a week. Co is greediest of all, and chief beggar of food. I assume from reading your other website answers today (I only found your site today) <Well hey, then, welcome! Enjoy!> that he has become constipated from eating the dry food and this has resulted in a swim bladder problem. <Sounds quite possible.> I will definitely change their food when they are back on it. <Great! More greens, less dry stuff.> I read another website, and stopped feeding them all four days ago, and fed some green peas (but they don't seem keen on them, and they took days to disappear.) <Try frozen peas (thaw them) and squeeze the 'guts' of the pea out of the shell (discard the shell), they might be more apt to eat them if you prepare them so (don't know how/what you used before). Failing that, try canned peas (try to get 'em without salt, or if not, then rinse thoroughly) and again, squeeze the 'guts' out of the shell. I'd be impressed if a goldfish refused that! You can try brine shrimp (frozen or live), as well, as that may help some, too. And please do not leave the peas in for more than a few hours - if they don't eat 'em by then, assume they won't be eaten.> Also I don't know whether Co ate any or whether it was the others. I also checked water quality etc so no issues there. <Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH?> Co seems to be a little thinner, and "floating" less then he was, but I'm worried about the other fish (who now also haven't been fed for 4 days). <They're probably fine. Try the brine shrimp if the peas fail again, and they'll probably all accept that quite readily.> Do I need to set up a QT tank to isolate Co? All I have is an old goldfish bowl, which doesn't have any filtration, aeration etc - would this do? If I do separate him, should I add Epsom salts or anything else? How long should he be without food, if he stays swelled up? <If you can isolate him yes, but he'd need aeration. Even a small-ish Rubbermaid container or bucket (or the fish bowl, if the goldfish isn't too big) would do the trick in a pinch, and an inexpensive aerator will be an invaluable device if you ever have to quarantine again, certainly worth the low expense. Epsom salts at a rate of 1 to 2 tablespoons per 10 gallons of water will help, and keep trying the peas and brine shrimp. He should accept them, if he's hungry.> How long does it take a fantail to recover from swim bladder problems? <Well, that's tough to say. Sometimes a fish recovers from problems like this completely, and is healthy and happily-ever-after-the-end. Some fish never fully recover, and float (or sink) for the rest of their (often short) lives.> Does one bout of it mean he will have a tendency for the rest of his life (that's if we pull him through this time)? <Quite possible. Feed a better diet, and you'll be on safer ground.> Sorry for the million questions, <Don't be! This is why we're here!> but I'm fond of the little guy and would like to fix him up. Shelley from Sydney <Completely understandable. Try all the above, and also take a gander through some other goldfish FAQs to read of similar instances: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisfaqs.htm Wishing you and Co well, -Sabrina>

Blinded goldfish? My orange Oranda gold fish is actually blind right now. I can't see his eyes anymore, when I tried to see his eyes all I see is blood clots. It's a really big one. Can't it be remove? Please help me. <Can you describe this in further detail? Is the blood clot on the outside of the eye, like the eye is covered up, or is it inside? Also, very important, what are your readings for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH? How large of a tank? Any tankmates?> Is there any medication I can treat him so he may can't go blind with another eyes. <Most importantly, test your water for the above things (or have your fish store test them for you), and be sure to do water changes to keep these in line. As for medicating, without knowing what is ailing him, I can't really suggest something to treat with - please try to describe his condition in a bit more detail, or if you can email a picture of his problem, that'd be even better.> Thank you! How can I feed him? <Goldfish should be fed lots of greens - shelled peas, blanched zucchini or cucumber, water plants like anacharis/elodea, even sushi nori. Too much flake or pelleted dry foods often causes gas problems in goldfish, so feeding these greens will help prevent that. Please get back to us with more detail about your goldfish's problem, and we'll try to help. Wishing you well, -Sabrina.> Vy

My daughter received a black moor for her b-day last week. <sounds like the fish came unexpected. Is it living in a bowl? Or in a nice 10g tank w/a filter? Goldfish need lots of room, since they are high waste producers & can poison themselves w/their own waste. Did you use dechlorinator?> He will come up and eat the flakes I give him but a few seconds later spits them back out, I tried changing foods to tiny pebble food, but he does the same thing, I'm very surprised that he's still alive, he is moving much more slowly. <Animals won't eat when feeling poorly. This could be caused by poor water quality, or just stress from being in a new home. Make sure you take out any uneaten food, as that will just add to the problem. You could try some of the tastier frozen or a higher quality goldfish food. Shelled peas are good for them too. Good water quality is necessary for all fish.> Please help <I hope this will--Pufferpunk>

Goldfish Swollen behind its Gills What a truly amazing site you have! I'm overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge here, but in all my efforts, I was unable to find anything describing the problem with one of my goldfish, so I thought I'd write and see what you have to say. <Okay> I have eight fancy goldfish in a 55 gallon tank. One is about five inches in length, one about four inches, and the other six range from two to three inches. I maintain a clean environment for the fish, and feed them pellet food, according to the recommendations at the pet store. <Not to exclusion I trust. Dried foods are problematical with fancy goldfish... and I hope you do sizable weekly water changes...> First, some of my fish tend to float after they eat. It doesn't happen right away, but a couple hours after they eat, they float. They're still upright, not sideways, or upside down, as I've read in many other cases. They don't have a problem swimming, or eating, and they do return to their normal buoyancy after a few hours. I've seen this come and go with several of them. Is there a swim bladder problem here, or is this something different? <Something different. The food> Finally, one of my fish, a blue fantail about 2 1/2 inches long is not well. Immediately behind the gills on both sides, is a small oval shaped swollen area, the length of the gill, and about 1/4 inch wide. The fish seems to be breathing okay, however, I would imagine it's a bit labored. He's still just as friendly, active, and hungry as the others. Whatever is swollen is under the scales, though they don't seem to stand out much. I do believe one of the scales was lost on one side as that side appears bruised. Is this related to gill disease? <Maybe, maybe not. I would not be concerned with this being a problem, but I would "do something" in the way of adding fresh and frozen foods in place of the all-dry regimen> I don't believe dropsy is involved, because the rest of the fish seems to be normal. <Not dropsy, but the current feeding practice will lead to other maladies> Any ideas, and suggestions for treatment would be greatly appreciated. I have a hospital tank I use to treat sick fish, so that's not an issue. I just need to know how to treat it. Better to know, than to use a random medication hoping it works. Thank you for your assistance. David C. Ware Professional Computer Nerd <Ha! No worries. The "floating" and likely the swollen area issue will be "solved" soon by feeding frozen/defrosted foods, par-boiled vegetables, cooked rice, frozen/defrosted peas... Feed the dried-food at most every third day or so. Bob Fenner>

Dinner-plate Size Redcapped Oranda HELLO : <Hi Magnus to help> I have read most of the Q&A and it has been very helpful as far as making me feel as if I were doing the best possible for our fish. <That is what we hope our FAQs can do.> I have even called emergency vets to get suggestions. Believe it or not I have even given her an enema (don't ask). <I won't... though, I'm struggling not to get a bad mental image.> Now we find our self's wondering if we are doing the right thing by trying so hard to keep her going. She seems to be suffering from swim bladder probs. SHE has stopped eating unless hand fed and is not pooping, along with floating upside down at the top of the single fish 40 gal. home. <At least she is not in with other fish that can pester her. if she were with other goldfish I doubt she would have made it this far.> We have been using the salt baths, Epsom salt tank water, brine shrimp, aquatic plants, and the peas. She seemed to have tried to poop yesterday, but it was a hollow tube with very little noticeable food partials in it. We believe she has possibly swallowed a rock and is unable to pass it. <If that is the case then there is very little you can do for a goldfish, aside from surgery. They really aren't able to pass stones, some goldfish can bring the stones back up their throats, but I have never seen this happen, and only heard about it from unverified sources. The sad fact is that if the fish has swallowed a stone, and hasn't passed it already, it most likely has an intestinal blockage. And an intestinal blockage is not something that can be fixed (without surgery). You can give it a little more time, but I'm sad to say that I'm not sure if there is anything you can do to help your fish.> My wife and I and the kids have all cried, been angry, and stressed. We want to know if "FANCY" is suffering even though I could not bring myself to putting her out of her misery without feeling terrible for the next year or so. <That is quite understandable, but remember that if the fish is starving or having toxins build up in her system then it can't be called a good life.> The reason we are having so much difficulty is because we have had FANCY for almost three years and she talks to us and has a lot of personality. <I know exactly what you mean, my oldest goldfish has been with me for years. I can't imagine not having him great me in the morning (his tank is in my room).> From tip to tip she is approx. 8 inches. <wow, for an Oranda she is pretty big. It seems you have taken the best care of her to get so big!> The cable guy say's she would be good on a shish kabob. <sounds like a nice guy... so nice that I would probably switch over to DirecTV...> The heart wrenching thing is that she still try's to swim around and is very much wanting to live! We hope you might have a suggestion since this has been going on for nearly three weeks. PLEASE HELP! SINCERELY FANCY & FAMILY <You can give it more time and try to feed her by hand, but it's only prolonging the problem. You are probably right that she has a blockage in there, and trying to get the blockage out (aka squeeze her or try to force the stone free) will more than likely damage her internal organs. If this persists you will more than likely see a decline in her health. Floating and unable to right herself will slowly work away on her, and she will most likely succumb to a secondary infection or worse case she has a rupture in her digestive system. Either way, it will not be a good thing. I wish there was something I could tell you to fix the problem. But what you have told me seems to point towards something that isn't fixable. You can give in a few more days and see if she does pass it, or that she does expel waste then it might show signs of hope... but please don't hold out to long for that. If you really want to spend the money, you can look around for a vet that specializes in fish and aquatic life (talk to your local zoo or aquarium they might know of one) and see what they think. Perhaps they can get an x-ray of the fish and determine the problem. But, this is not going to be a cheap endeavor, it will most likely cost way more than the fish was initially worth (as for the emotional worth, that is up to you.) If you don't feel that the fish is getting better then you should bring yourself to think about euthanize the fish. There are many methods, the method that I had found to work the best, with the least amount of pain was to place the fish and a comfortable amount of water into a plastic bag then place the entire bag into the freezer. The fish will slowly slip away as the water gets cold. The fish is gone long before the water freezes and any sort of ice can form (in or on the fish). I do hope that the fish does somehow recover. I'll be wishing for it. I would hate to loose any of my goldfish, let alone my large ones I have had for a while. Good luck. -Magnus>

Goldfish activity levels I have 8 smallish goldfish (various kinds) in a 96 litre tank - all healthy except one which I suspect has swim bladder problems .... I am going to take advice from your FAQ section and amend diet. <Hopefully the diet switch will be what's needed to help the fish!> However, at the school where I work, the tank is slightly smaller, and holds only 2 fairly large fancy goldfish. The rest of the tank is quite full with plants ... so much so that it can be difficult to locate the fish. <Heavily planted tanks are quite nice, and goldfish seem to be happier in that case. Goldfish are bred from carp which like to be in muddy waters, and heavy with plants. gives them place to hide, and a good source of food.> The fish do not seem very active (I have not seen them at feeding time). Do you think they need extra care? <Most likely not, Goldfish don't need to be extremely active, if they are fed well, and healthy then most times you see them just sort of "chilling" in the tank. If they show signs of illness, or swelling then I would be concerned. But, it sounds like you just have to well fed, and some what lazy Goldfish. I have a few that are exactly the same way. -Magnus>

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>

Up With Chuck! Dear Chuck Thank you very much for the advice. I don't know exactly where to find Spirulina flakes. I went to PetSmart but they don't have it. < Check around at other pet shops or regular tropical fish stores. You may need it in the future.> My fish is doing better now. You have to see him, he is happy swimming around and going easily from top to bottom. I decided to change the water and I put some Epsom salt in it. (1 tablespoon per gallon) I gave him only peas today and he was happy with it. The other one doesn't seem to like them very much but he ate some. Because both fish are in the same aquarium, do you think is bad for the healthy fish to have the same diet? < Peas by themselves may not be good over a long term because they may not contain enough protein for your fish to replace damaged tissues and to grow. There are many fine goldfish foods on the market. Brands like O.S.I., Hikari, and Marineland have very good foods that are well balanced.> The healthy fish has done some white poop today. Is it normal? < The fecal matter from your fish is a indication of its diet. A long stringy translucent feces is usually an indication something may be wrong. But your fish sounds like it is normal.> And if I didn't find the Spirulina flakes soon, could I start to gave them goldfish flakes instead? < Make sure you get a good quality flake food and not the cheapest one you can find. Try feeding a couple times a day with smaller helpings instead of one large feeding a day.-Chuck.> Thank you very much for your help - Patricia

Sick Moor Hi Gwen, Thank you for writing us back. Our fish tank was an inheritance...I am more of a dog lover, but I have grown very attached to our black moor since having it for a year now. Since writing you, I followed through on the steps when signs of distress and disease show. It has helped tremendously. I have also made a point to read more about the fish and the upkeep of eclipse aquariums. Our fish is now swimming around like normal, still eating, and seems to be doing fine. However, I am concerned about the deterioration is his fins. The very tips of the fins have small holes in them. Also, his bowel movements are now up to every day since the cleansing of the tank. Yesterday, it was more clear and thick instead of the light brown yellowish color. Is that a bad sign? My last question for you...how long do I leave out the carbon filter when I am treating him with medicine? Thank you much, Eeon <<Dear Eeon; Glad to hear! The fins will take some time to heal, up to a week, maybe more. Keep doing the water changes to get the quality as high as possible, and feed him the good stuff, Spirulina flake. Goldfish's bowel movements can change when their diet changes, or water quality. Do not fear, he should do just fine now :) as long as the clear poop stops in a day or two. Poop can be a disease indicator, but don't overreact if it changes color now and then. Leave the carbon out for the duration of the treatment. You can put it back into the filter when the treatment is done, and a water change at that time will help as well. Half the battle is good water quality :) -Gwen>>

Goldfish Waste Color In a site on buying a goldfish it said that the waste should be dark in color not light. Why? <<Hello. Goldfish waste is generally the color of the food they eat. Long, stringy, light-colored waste can indicate an internal bacterial infection. Watch the fish you want to buy to see if they have trouble swimming properly, if they gasp (breathe too fast) or if they seem lethargic. Fancy goldfish are susceptible to many problems due to their compact body shape. Feel free to read our Goldfish FAQ's here at WetWebMedia. -Gwen>>

Strange behavior in Goldfish I have 3 goldfish , I have had them for 10 months , they were about 1 1/2" long when I bought them, everything was normal till this week, one of them is acting strange, hiding and laying on its back and when you probe him he rushes around hitting the sides and splashing the surface and then retreats to hide in a log or foliage. hope you can help me. thank you Bill Pich <Hi Bill, if there are no other signs of illness (white spots, fin-rot, body swelling) then I think that your goldfish might be suffering from a swim bladder problem. There are a number of reasons why the fish might have swim bladder disease. 1.A virus or bacteria that attacks the air sac which causes inflammation and makes it difficult for gasses to diffuse across. So, the fish is stuck at a specific buoyancy. This is why water quality is so important. 2.Anatomy. The ornamental goldfish that are breed today are predisposed to problems with the swim bladders. This is because threw years of breeding the normally stream-lined body is now much more compact, which literally scrunches the organs. This arrangement predisposes to food impactions, which in turn clog up the pneumocystic duct. And causes unbalanced body to bladder ratio. 3.Diet. Feeding dry foods which tend to take on water like a sponge and expanded food can run the chance of impaction. So, now we know what causes it. How to fix the problem. Check your water chemistry. Make sure that ammonia, nitrite, and Nitrates are at zero (or close as possible (especially the nitrAtes). Keep the water clean and do regular water changes. Add a airstone to makes sure the water is oxygenated properly. The next magic trick to try is feeding your goldfish peas! Just feed your fish a couple of store bought peas. Just get some frozen peas, thaw them, and feed them to your fish. Not only is it good and healthy, but veterinarians thick that the peas also help break up food impactions. Which will help regain the buoyancy. Hopefully that will offer some help, keep the water clean, and make sure the other fish don't start harassing the sick one. They will pick at the fish and nip the fins. Good luck and if you need more help might I suggest www.goldfishinfo.com. Hope the goldie gets better. -Magnus>

Another Bloaty Goldfish - 10/30/2004 Hi <Hi, Julie! Sabrina here, this afternoon> I have a calico fan tail gold fish, about 3 mo.s ago he started floating upside down a lot. He can swim right side up but only for a little while. <More than likely this is a very simple dietary issue, but may possibly be the result of damage/disease of the swim bladder.... My bet is on the former, as a swim bladder issue won't usually cause the fish to float *upside-down*. What are you feeding him?> He has all of his fins and there is no ick in the tank. <Good, and good. How large is the tank? Any tankmates? Are you testing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? What are the results of those tests?> I don't know what to do to help him stay right side up. If you have any ideas or answers PLEASE pass it on to me. <Glad to do so. "Fancy" goldfish (fantails, Orandas, etc., etc.) have pretty deformed innards from having been so selectively bred for so very long; these genetic issues are not curable. The result of this is that too much of the wrong kinds of food will very easily make them constipated - Bloaty, floaty goldfish. The very best thing you can do for this is to stop feeding him flaked and pelletted foods exclusively, and instead use those items as a much smaller part of his diet. For now, offer him some thawed frozen pea (squeeze the shell off of the pea), put a few stems of Anacharis/elodea/egeria (a water plant, available at most fish stores) in his tank (he'll happily graze on these). You can blanch veggies (drop into boiling water for a few seconds) like cucumber, zucchini, squash, romaine lettuce, spinach, and more to give to him as regular foods, too - he'll love these. I remember my goldfish when I was a kid - they were always rescuing me from my asparagus at dinner time! If you offer canned veggies, make sure there are no "weird" ingredients on the label, and rinse them thoroughly before offering them to the fish. Also, it is very easy to overfeed goldfish, so be careful only to feed him every other day or so; even just a few times a week, if he has some plants in the tank to munch on. Keep doing this, and he should soon make a recovery, provided the tank is a good size, and his water quality is good!> Thank you very much. <Any time.> Juile Casman <Good luck with him, Juile! Wishing you and your Bloaty pal well, -Sabrina>

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>

Bloated Goldie I am desperate. My 5 year old 9 inch goldfish Wiggles is very bloated and has not eaten for about two weeks. I just don't know what is the best thing to do for him. He has always been very active and we feed him goldfish flakes. He has been like this before but never this long. I am really getting worried. I read where one guy fed his fish peas and I've also heard about putting Epsom salt in the tank. We occasionally give wiggles small pieces of bread. Is this all right or could this be part of his problem? Please tell me what to do for wiggles, I am desperate. Peggy <Well if he's not eating the peas will not help. If you can get him to take one or two, go for it. Try the Epsom salt at one heaping tbls per 10 gallons. Also, do several large water changes, replacing the salt with each at the same concentration. If this does not help we may have to medicate. Meds are always more effective in pristine water. They will also cause the water to no longer be pristine, so we do that last. I would not feed bread. Sinking pellets and veggies are ideal goldfish foods. Don>

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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