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Fancy goldfish with white fuzz/furballs?


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First, let me thank you guys for this forum. You've saved me from frustration and fish deaths several times now, but this time I've got an issue I haven't been able to find a solid answer to yet!

Today, I discovered one of my fancy fantails swimming nose-up, with a bunch of white fuzzy globs on it. They almost look like lint balls!

I immediately worried, but since it doesn't look like ich, I decided to sit tight and run some tests. I googled it and found a thread here with a lady with a similar problem, and Trinket told her it was likely a pH problem. I tested pH and found it was barely registering with my test kit (straight yellow/6.0) so I followed directions from that thread and added baking soda. That brought me up to 6.4, and from my reading it seems moving the pH more than .4 in a day is harmful, so I stopped there.

My ammonia came out just light of 0.25, Nitrite at 0, Nitrate at 10ppm. These levels are fairly consistent for my tank. I usually treat the ammonia with AmQuel Plus about every 3 weeks as needed. I need to get a KH/GH test kit, but $ is tight so it's on the list for next paycheck!

Have any of you experienced this before? I think the pH issue is the problem, but it just seems like this tank always has some issue. I had goldfish as a kid and can't remember ever working this hard to keep them healthy! I've given more info below, as well as a video of my fish and my tank. Please don't mind the children in the background :) The best shot of the affected fish is at roughly 2:25-3:10 in the video.

Any help at all would be most appreciated!

As requested:


  • Test Results for the Following:
  • * Ammonia Level (tank): 0-0.25ppm
  • * Nitrite Level (tank): 0
  • * Nitrate level (Tank): 10ppm
  • * Ammonia Level (Tap): 0-0.25ppm
  • * Nitrite Level (Tap): 0
  • * Nitrate level (Tap): 5.0ppm
  • * Ph Level, (Tank) (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): was too low to read with my kit (6.0) before baking soda, 6.4 after
  • * Ph Level, (Tap) (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 6.2
    Other Required Info:
  • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API master kit, drops
  • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? Marineland Penguin 100 (for 20gal)
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners? AmQuel Plus, Stress Zyme+, aquarium salt
  • * Water temperature? 68. rose to 70 yesterday but went back down
  • * How often do you change the water and how much? 10-20% bi-weekly

  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? 20% changed 4 days ago
  • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 20gal hi-tank, running since July
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size? 3 fish total. 1 feeder goldfish, 3.5-4" long. 2 fancy fantails 2-3" long
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often? once daily, TetraFin flakes
  • * Any new fish added to the tank? not in last 60 days
  • * Any medications added to the tank? other than those listed (conditioners), I added 1-1/2 tsp baking soda roughly 3 hours ago to help buffer the pH. pH changed from 6.0 to 6.4
  • * List previous issues experienced:
  • Starting a new line here. This tank has been a headache from day one. It started off cloudy, yellow cloudy. Our LFS told us it was likely tannin from the river rocks we used and it would work itself out. After a few months it did, but in January our Kio jumped out of the tank (we didn't have a lid at the time) and one feeder died a day later. I cleaned the tank that weekend a bit too briskly and stirred up a lot of excrement into the water. My hubby and I had a fight and I forgot to change the water, which spiked the tank terribly. The second (still with us) feeder developed red streaks in the body and fins and upon testing I found the tank had ammonia, nitrates, and nitrite well over tolerable. I did a complete water change, conditioned the new water, and reset the tank. The tank has been clean and only had a minor spike or two of ammonia since. The feeder ("Lunk" is what I call him) has turned around fully and is currently quite healthy.
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? One fancy seems to have what chunks of fuzz, almost like lint balls, on it's fins, the other only a tiny bit.
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? The fancy showing the fuzz was swimming nealy straight up and down prior to me adding baking soda to the tank to buffer the pH, but is swimming better now (thanks to you guys!!!)
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment. I add 2 tsp of the AmQuel and StressZyme+ roughly every 3 weeks, depending on ammonia levels and other test results. I last added salt in January, and had plans to do it this weekend before this all happened!
  • * You can really help us to identify with the concern more accurately if you post some pictures and a short video.
  • Video can be found at

Edited by Stormchanter
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Edited to add video.

PS- Since typing this up, the white fuzzballs have been falling off the fantail, and it is swimming much more happily. I guess what I'm asking now is how do I maintain a stable pH?

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This does look to be a pH issue. There is concern about large pH changes (more concern when moving from a higher to a lower pH), but given the situation, it would be better for your fish to raise the pH asap as opposed to waiting.

Please add more baking soda and retest until you reach a ph of 7.0-7.2

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could you please clarify, are you adding aquarium salt on a regular basis? If so how much? and for what particular reason?

A couple other points:

- There is no need to use amquel and stress zyme. Amquel is an excellent water conditioner on its own, I would stick to that and save some money :)

- The tank you have right now is unfortunately too small for your 3 beautiful fish. Fancies need at minimum 15-20 gallons per fish, so a tank somewhere between 45-60 gallons would be ideal for them. Goldfish grow quite large and produce a lot of waste, so they need a good amount of space and water volume :)

Let me know when you get your ph raised up and then lets talk water changes :)

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could you please clarify, are you adding aquarium salt on a regular basis? If so how much? and for what particular reason? A couple other points: - There is no need to use amquel and stress zyme. Amquel is an excellent water conditioner on its own, I would stick to that and save some money :) - The tank you have right now is unfortunately too small for your 3 beautiful fish. Fancies need at minimum 15-20 gallons per fish, so a tank somewhere between 45-60 gallons would be ideal for them. Goldfish grow quite large and produce a lot of waste, so they need a good amount of space and water volume :) Let me know when you get your ph raised up and then lets talk water changes :)

Alrighty. Good morning and thanks SO much for responding!

I tested the tank this morning and am getting 6.8-7.0 by my chart. I have not yet added any more baking soda, but after reading this (and typing this) I will add until I reach 7.0-7.2.

As for your questions...I have added aquarium salt once, back in January. I had planned to add it again this weekend before this happened. I added 4 tbsp per the package directions last time. My LFS had advised me to add a tbsp every other time I reached a 50% total water exchange (meaning if I did 10% per week, I would add 1 tbsp every 10 weeks). Upon reading it seems that may be too little, but I'm not sure really.

I'm glad I don't need to use both the AmQuel and StressZyme. I'll cut that one back for the time being. I had been using both because we had such a tough time re-cycling the tank after spiking it, but it seems we might be in the clear as far as the cycle goes now so I'll leave it off going forward. I'm also glad to hear you guys approve of the AmQuel, I had reservations about it since it seems like I have to do it every few weeks for ammonia, but since the ammonia comes from my tap as well I kept using it.

As for the tank size, sadly they're going to have to stay in that tank for a while. I was aware it would be too small once the fish grew more, but the tank was gifted to us and we can't afford a whole new setup. I did think we would be alright until the fancies got a fair bit bigger (my sister has a HUGE fancy named Gilligan in an identical tank by himself) and the feeder goldfish is destined for a local pond once he hits 6". I had plans to add the fancies to the pond as well and switch to fish that were less troublesome once the fancies were big enough to not get picked on in the pond...but all that is some time away. Do you think I should attempt to adopt one or more of them out? I think my kids would be quite upset but I don't want to make life suck for the fish either. The tank seems so empty already!

Anyways, I thank you again for your help! This forum has been my lifeline for info and help when my fishes were having issues and I am eternally grateful!

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Ok, so I added baking soda and after about a few hours I'm reading 7.2 for my pH. The fancy with the white fuzz has shed all of it and is swimming around mostly happily. It's still sitting on the bottom occasionally, but only for a few moments before it moves along and is swimming around again. Thank you all SO much for the reassurances! Everyone I know went immediately to telling me it was fungus or ich or some sickness, and I would have spent a ton and not fixed the issue! Now I know to keep an eye on the pH more closely!

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My replies are in bold below ;)

could you please clarify, are you adding aquarium salt on a regular basis? If so how much? and for what particular reason? A couple other points: - There is no need to use amquel and stress zyme. Amquel is an excellent water conditioner on its own, I would stick to that and save some money :) - The tank you have right now is unfortunately too small for your 3 beautiful fish. Fancies need at minimum 15-20 gallons per fish, so a tank somewhere between 45-60 gallons would be ideal for them. Goldfish grow quite large and produce a lot of waste, so they need a good amount of space and water volume :) Let me know when you get your ph raised up and then lets talk water changes :)

Alrighty. Good morning and thanks SO much for responding!

I tested the tank this morning and am getting 6.8-7.0 by my chart. I have not yet added any more baking soda, but after reading this (and typing this) I will add until I reach 7.0-7.2.

As for your questions...I have added aquarium salt once, back in January. I had planned to add it again this weekend before this happened. I added 4 tbsp per the package directions last time. My LFS had advised me to add a tbsp every other time I reached a 50% total water exchange (meaning if I did 10% per week, I would add 1 tbsp every 10 weeks). Upon reading it seems that may be too little, but I'm not sure really.

There is no reason to add salt unless it is at a therapeutic dose to treat an illness. Salt is a medication for goldfish, they do not need salt in the water otherwise.

I'm glad I don't need to use both the AmQuel and StressZyme. I'll cut that one back for the time being. I had been using both because we had such a tough time re-cycling the tank after spiking it, but it seems we might be in the clear as far as the cycle goes now so I'll leave it off going forward. I'm also glad to hear you guys approve of the AmQuel, I had reservations about it since it seems like I have to do it every few weeks for ammonia, but since the ammonia comes from my tap as well I kept using it.

I am a bit confused when you say that you are only using Amquel every few weeks? Amquel is a water conditioner and should be used every time you change your water. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any clarification on this, but you should be treating the water you use for a water change with amquel every time (unless of course you have well water or something that you have determined to be free of chlorine/chloramine).

As for the tank size, sadly they're going to have to stay in that tank for a while. I was aware it would be too small once the fish grew more, but the tank was gifted to us and we can't afford a whole new setup. I did think we would be alright until the fancies got a fair bit bigger (my sister has a HUGE fancy named Gilligan in an identical tank by himself) and the feeder goldfish is destined for a local pond once he hits 6". I had plans to add the fancies to the pond as well and switch to fish that were less troublesome once the fancies were big enough to not get picked on in the pond...but all that is some time away. Do you think I should attempt to adopt one or more of them out? I think my kids would be quite upset but I don't want to make life suck for the fish either. The tank seems so empty already!

I believe that you are going to have troubles down the road keeping 3 fish in a 20 gallon tank unfortunately. I certainly cannot tell you what to do, but if it were me I would try to rehome two of them until you are able to get a suitable setup for multiple fish.

Until you decide what to do, I would recommend doing more frequent water changes. A minimum of a 50-80% water change weekly is recommended in tanks that are appropriately stocked. When you are overstocked it is advisable to do more frequent water changes. There are things that build up in the water that we cannot test for, such as organics, therefore basing water changes on test results alone is not ideal.

Because you are going to have a bit of a difference between tap and tank pH you will need to be considerate of how much water you change at a time. Because you will have about a 1.0 ppm difference between tap and tank pH if you bring your tank pH up to 7.2, a 50% water change is the max you would be able to do at a time. However, I would stick with about a 30% change at a time to keep pH from dropping too far into the 6's at water change time.

Anyways, I thank you again for your help! This forum has been my lifeline for info and help when my fishes were having issues and I am eternally grateful!

we are always happy to help! :)

Ok, so I added baking soda and after about a few hours I'm reading 7.2 for my pH. The fancy with the white fuzz has shed all of it and is swimming around mostly happily. It's still sitting on the bottom occasionally, but only for a few moments before it moves along and is swimming around again. Thank you all SO much for the reassurances! Everyone I know went immediately to telling me it was fungus or ich or some sickness, and I would have spent a ton and not fixed the issue! Now I know to keep an eye on the pH more closely!

Would you be able to get a kh/gh test by chance? API makes a pack with kh/gh for about 10 dollars.

We need to come up with a more long term plan for maintaining the pH, and it would be helpful to know your kh/gh.

You can continue using baking soda if you like, you can also get a commercial buffer at your pet store if you prefer to go that route. Seachem Gold Buffer and API proper pH are both good choices that can often be found in pet stores. Buff it up from goldfishconnection.com is another good one.

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