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Emergency! Please Help!

Guest Normanne

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Guest Normanne

I have a 150 gallon outdoor pond where I keep Shubunkin Goldfish. I have had the pond for 2 years. Started with 3 fish...they had babies last year...and now have (had) a total of 11 until this morning. 8 are now dead and the 3 originals (also the largest) are not looking good.

Two of them are approximately 8" long and the third is about 6" long. The ones that have died ranged from 2" - 4". They have always been quite healthy. As the weather has gotten warmer over the last couple of weeks (I live in South Carolina) I have started to feed them again...normal goldfish pellets.

I also removed about half of the parrot feather that was in the pond as it had almost completely covered the entire surface of the water. I have continually tested the water and it has been fine.

Tests this morning show ammonia level at 1 or lower and nitrite at normal as well. However, I have noticed over the last several days that the fish were getting some kind of white stuff on them that looks kind of "mucousy." I went online to read about possible diseases and thought that it must be some kind of Ich. I ordered a 24 hour Ich clearning medicine (that should arrive today or tomorrow).

I have been watching them each day and other than the white stuff, they appeared to be normal. They swam around like normal. The eyes on the larger fish now seem to be completely taken over by the white stuff and when I went out this morning...ALL of the small fish were dead laying on the bottom and the three large ones appeared to have more of the white stuff on them and are extremely lethargic--barely moving at all.

I immediately removed the three live fish from the pond and put the 2 worst ones in a large container together with 2/3 water from the pond and 1/3 new water. I took the 3rd one and put him in a container by himself with 1/4 pond water and 3/4 new water. The 3rd one appeared to not be as sick as the others so if what they have is contagious or whatever, I thought he might have a better chance by himself. I also thought that having as much new water as possible might help him.

I've tested the water and all seems fine. I called my fish store and they are closed. PLEASE...if anyone has any suggestions on what I can do to try to save my last three and original fish, I would be MOST grateful.

Thank you. My email is info@palacetravelprofessionals.com.


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Guest Normanne

To add to my message above...I have just been checking on the one that is by himself. He is the only one whose natural color is all white. I have him in a large clear container so I am able to observe him a little bit better.

The skin all around the front of his face and nose is just peeling/shedding off. I had not noticed this before but this is the first time that I am able to see him fairly well.

He is moving around a good bit more than the other two. But he also seems to be moving backwards more than anything else.

The other two...the large orange ones...appear to be a teeny weeny bit more active...they are moving their fins around a little bit more. But other than that, they are still pretty stationary.

None of them appear to be gulping for air or over utilizing their gills.

Someone please advise.

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Guest Normanne

Latest update:

I added a teaspoon of salt to the water of both containers as it appears from more reading that salt can kill a lot of parasites but does not cause harm to the fish.

After putting one teaspoon in, the fish bolted and jumped out of the water into the air. I assume that the salt hitting their skin was painful. They only did this for a few moments and now are back to their previous behavior.

I was supposed to put in about 3 teaspoons of salt but was concerned about adding anymore if it was causing them pain.

Any thoughts?

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  • Regular Member

Jeez....that sounds awful!!!!

Could the water have been contaminated with something?? I mean really! Skin peeling off! Is it possible that your pond has been vandelized by some mean spirited person?

Is there anyway you could take a sample of that water to the water company and ask them to analize it?? I would Call and ask.

This is awful! your poor babies! I am so sorry for you!



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  • Regular Member

Some more thoughts.....

This is just so odd to me it doesn't sound like a fungas! Dying overnight! Skin peeling! White substance covering their body! Reacting to salt like that! It just sounds like a chemical burn to me.

I would keep their water as clean as possible and add melafix as it is supposed to heal wounds....

I could be wrong and keep on reading because someone will set us straight quickly if I am! I just felt like I had to respond to your post! I can literally feel your anguish when I read this post, and I just had to reply!


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  • Regular Member

Greetings and welcome to the board! :welcome

The mucousy stuff may be a build up of the slime coat.

Another member went through something similar a couple

weeks ago. She did a 100% water change, and the new

water was a different ph level than the outgoing water.

She treated it with a .3% salt solution. When adding

salt raise the % gradually. 1 tsp per gallon or 3T per

5 gallons will give you a .1% mix. Add that amount

every 12 hours until you achieve the .3% mix.

When doing water changes, remember to add enough

salt back in for the amount of water taken out. Oh,

always desolve salt in a container of tank water before

adding. This will prevent the fish from being burned

by the disolving salt.

Ich will look like little salt grains all over the fish, rather

than mucousy stuff. Here's a pic of ich on a fish.

Feel free to ask more questions as they come. :)


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Guest susong

Wowsers...this is just awful!

I really feel for you.

All's I can think of is what Keekee suggested, re: poisonous substance in the water...that all happened way too fast.

Did you get a lot of rain recently that could have run off the land into the water...was your lawn recently treated?

Keep us posted, get the water tested...

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Guest tooterfish


is parrot feather (that was ontop of the pond) a leaf of some kind?

to me it sounds like a ph crash problem

ph drops can kill fish very quickly.

it can lead to high slime and shedding

if "parrot feathers" are some kind of plant material, and they were breaking down (rotting) the increased waste in your pond could affect your Ph, by overloading your normal buffering capacity

do you know your waters Ph from the source?

do you know your ponds Ph?

Do you have soft water?

do you know your Kh (alkalinity) level? This will tell what your normal buffer is


fish can handle a Ph rising better than a Ph dropping,

They can handle a range of about to 6.8+ to i've heard 9.0 AS long as it remains stable.

please let us know.

if your tap (source) is higher in Ph than the pond at this moment

do small gradual water in your buckets changes to help them get used to the increasing Ph

Have you had alot of rain lately? Chemicals in rainwater, or runoff can affect the Ph, but i'm leaning towards the plant material.

I'm still learning, and trying to understand water chemistry... i do hope it all works out -Tooter

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Guest Normanne


First, thanks so much to everyone who is responding and trying to help me figure this out.

My pond is actually elevated, so it is not possible for any lawn chemicals or run off from rain to get into the water. It is built up and on a patio. Plus, we have not had a lot of rain lately.

And while not completely impossible, it is VERY unlikely that the water was poisoned by a person or anything like that.

All my water readings are coming out normal.

Parrot Feather is a plant that is supposed to be good for outdoor gold fish ponds as they also can eat it and it helps to oxygenate the water. Since it is very healthy and has been in the pond since I started it, I don't think that is the source. It has not rotted and there is not much waste at all on the bottom of the pond.

The good news is that I think the last 3 remaining fish might be gettng a little bit better. I have added salt to the water, cycled out as much of the old water and put in good, aged tap water. They seem more active and the white coating on them is now peeling/shedding off like crazy. At first I thought this was a bad thing but now I'm thinking this might be a good thing.

Maybe whatever the problem was for the fish...only the bigger ones were able to coat themselves with enough of their protective slime to keep themselves alive until they got away from whatever is wrong. Now that they appear to be in a better environment, they are perking up a little and starting to shed the coat of slime. Is this possible? Is this how it happens? I'm completely guessing as I have never had a problem like this before.

Again, thank you so much for your responses. Please keep any other suggtions or ideas coming.

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  • Regular Member

:lol: I am sooooo glad your fish are better!!! I have been worried, and waiting to see how they were!

PM94 had a good suggestion about the PH being the problem (I didn't know it could be THAT deadly, although I knew it could kill)....but since your fish are doing better away from the pond it must be a problem with the pond water! Do you have a PH testing kit?

PH problems go totally over my head....very confusing! It seems that there can be tons of reasons for the PH to crash, and to investigate that possibility seems like the only way to go at this point....I'm glad there is no chemical runoff problems!

Good Luck with your investigation!

Let us know what you decide!


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  • Regular Member

Actually, Tooterfish and Paul are onto something here. It could be a pH crash after all. What is the pH in your pond, and in the tap water? If the pH crashed drastically, the fish get that white mucus slime covering on them, and its not a pretty sight, as well as very thick. YOu said you moved the remaining 3 fish into new quarters with partly fresh water, which probably has acceptable pH readings, and thats why they are doing better.

If you have the chance, let us know the exact pH readings from both waters, and go out and try to get a kH kit. KH measures the buffering capacity of your water, and if there isn't enough capacity, pH will go down, fast in a lot of cases. I had constant kH/pH problems, with the kH being almost Zippo, until I added crushed coral to all my tanks and ponds, and since then everything is a-okay...

What you discribe sounds so awfully familiar! So glad that your fish are improving!! :happydance

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Guest Normanne

Final Update of the Day:

Again, Thank You SO much for all of your help. Yes...I think the suggestions about the PH are probably going to prove to be true. I'm going to get a Ph and Kh testing kit as suggested and will share the news.

The three fish are doing MUCH better...still not 100% but I definitely think they are going to make it and have a full recovery. They have almost completely shed the white slimy stuff and their true, normal colors are shining through. They are much more perky and active.

After testing the water again to try to find out the source of the problem so I can hope to avoid it in the future, I am going to completely take everything out of my pond and start it from scratch.

While I am so grateful that the three original fish are going to be okay, I am heartbroken that the 8 beautiful "babies" that have been with me for more than a year had to die. I just pray that they didn't suffer much. If they did...don't tell me!

Again, thanks so much for your thoughts and ideas. I am eternally grateful.


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Guest tooterfish

starting again from scratch, remember will affect the "cycle" that you have established for 2 years.. starting again with ammonia, nitrites, nitrates..

you may just want to review your tank, check your plantings, check your ornaments, (natural driftwood can affect the Ph) do multiple water changes, and retest, before adding your fish,

that way your natural cycle is still intact.

For it just may have been a crash and not a disease or illness that caused the deaths.

by breaking everything down, you might not be able to come to a conclusion on what cause this happen, and therefore it may happen again.

i'm glad your fish are pulling through :)


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