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Zombie Fish/ Mouth Issue


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Test Results for the Following:

  • * Ammonia Level(Tank): .5ppm Main Tank/ QT: .5ppm
  • * Nitrite Level(Tank): 0 Main tank/ ) ppm QT tank )
  • * Nitrate level(Tank): 40-80ppm Main/ QT: 0ppm
  • * Ammonia Level(Tap): No idea
  • * Nitrite Level(Tap): No idea
  • * Nitrate level(Tap): No idea
  • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): 7.2/ QT: 6.5
  • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines): I do not have a test for this

Other Required Info:

  • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API Drops
  • * Water temperature? 72 degrees/ QT 73 degrees
  • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 29 gal/3 years/ QT: 20 gal for 6 weeks
  • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? Aqua Clear 110 and 20 for emergency QT tank/ QT: Aqua Clear 30 and Aqua Clear 20/ Well aerated in both tanks
  • * How often do you change the water and how much? Before this fin rot issue I did 20% weekly. Now I am doing 50% every other day due to overstocking issue/my own lack of knowledge/ high nitrates that have since come down substantially on the main tank/ 50% daily on the QY
  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? Every other day 50% on the main/ QT Daily 50%
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size? 3 other commons/ 8-13 inches long/ QT: one comet 7” long no other fish
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners? Prime on main/ QT: Prime and Stress coat
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often? 2x’s daily/ progold, peas, resplashy, kale, spinach, shrimp pellets (once a week) on a rotating schedule
  • * Any new fish added to the tank? No
  • * Any medications added to the tank? Initially Tetra Life guard on whole tank/ QT: Maracyn 1 and 2 4 weeks ago, waited two weeks now using Goldfish Connection Anti Bac (5 day treatment)
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment: will describe in post narrative
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? Fin rot, black marks on face and body, deformed mouth, strange sore on roof of mouth
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Not eating, a little unbalanced swimming

Hi There! I have a zombie fish. Seriously, this gal (I think) is tough! I apologize for the long post but I have been trying to treat this fish for several weeks now and want to paint a clear picture. I have had these carnival fish for almost five years. I have three commons and one comet. There are a total of four in a 29 gallon tank. In the past six months I lost two (originally had 6) most likely from nitrate poisoning. These fish are huge! The largest one is nearly 13 “ long. So, I started doing more research on how to better care for them (which brought me here!) I bought a test kit and a Python syphon which has made me realize that my nitrates were at 120ppm (extremely dangerous) and began doing 50% water changes daily until it came down to 40ppm. The rest of my water parameters are acceptable. I also bought respashy, pro gold (metro meds for emergencies) shrimp pellets, and a little clip for fresh treats, based on the recommendations I saw in Koko’s threads. My fish look awesome and are super active and their color has really popped. I bought a 55 gallon tank for them from Craigslist and will move them soon with the intention of buying a 75 gallon in August.

Creating a more positive environment also instigated some spawning activity. I think I have one smaller (4”) male that started getting frisky with the three gals and was a little rough with the comet. This combined with the poor water quality and overstocking created fin rot but only on my one comet. They have had it before and I usually treat with Maracyn and that knocks it out. The LFS did not have it so I, at the recommendation of a chain store employee, used Tetra Life Guard. Only the comet was looking bad. Within a day she had black marks all over (chemical burn) and the fins looked very ragged, white, began tearing, and had red streaks in it. After the final day of treatment of the medication I woke up and she had black marks all over her body and head! I do not know what caused this and all the other fish looked fine. I moved her to a QT with super clean water and I wanted to give her a place to heal with some peace. I have been doing daily 50% water changes, a gradual 2% salt solution, placed 1 filter (not cycled) on the tank, and a nice big round air bubble stone. Her fins really started falling off. She was still eating and swimming, no clamped fins, no bottom sitting and pooping normal. Then, after 8 days in QT more of her fins fell off, especially her tail, which used to be very long and it got more white and a bit fuzzy.

After a week I finally found Maracyn 1 and 2 and did the entire treatment. I proceeded with 7 days of really clean water and she began to look a bit better but stopped eating. Then the she got white fluffy stuff (cotton mouth?) on her body and face. There was also a strange white film on the tank. I cleaned the tank, added another filter (now have 2 Aqual Clears 20 and 30), and I began a treatment of Goldfish Connection Anti Bac (covered the tank with a towel as per the directions). She was still not eating but her dorsal fin is back up and it looks like there is new fin growth with no fuzzy stuff on it. My plan is to keep her slightly salted with daily water changes in pristine condition.

What is really concerning me is her mouth. Last Friday it looked as if she had something stuck in it. The roof has this grey stuff on it. Like if a piece of gum was stuck on the top. I had tried her on a bit of gel food earlier that day and she did not touch it so I removed it from the tank. I was worried a piece was stuck in her mouth so I removed her from the tank and tried to use plastic tweezers to get it out. I determined that it is actually a swollen part of the top of her mouth. The color is a green grey and the sore or thing is a grey green color. I have no idea what this is. She is breathing a bit more rapid than usual and can not close her mouth all the way. The rest of her is healing nicely and she is swimming and seems happy but I am concerned that she is going to suffocate from the sore or fungus or what ever it is in her mouth. Her lips (?) are a bit puffy as well. I cannot seem to find any similar issues on the old forums other than flukes and caved in mouths and this does not look like any of the posted pictures.

Today she ate some gel food! Her tail fin (or stub of a tail fin) looks sort of thick and pink. No more fuzz and the black parts are disappearing. Her mouth looks better but the grey sore or strangeness is still there. I have one more day of the Anti Bac treatment (tomorrow.) She is swimming normal. Tonight I am going to pulverize metro meds and mix it in with the gel food so I can get her some antibiotics. I bought Prazi liquid and it should arrive on Saturday or Sunday. This has been going on for weeks and I am amazed she has made it so long in such bad shape. I am new to forum posting and I will try and post some photos and a video as I started recording the issues for my own reference. Any suggestions on diagnosis and treatment would be greatly appreciated.

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Hello :)

My two cents: First, I would hold off from the metro meds until more help comes :) It can be damaging to a goldfish's liver if not used correctly.

Also, please test your tap pH. I also noticed that your QT pH is really low, and your main tank's is higher. Are you using a buffer?

Last thing, I would not use API stress coat. It can actually suffocate a goldfish by forming a stress coat around the gills. You should stick only to the prime :)

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I noticed you said "40-80ppm" for nitrates... How often has your tank tested over 40 ppm?

Edited by Chai
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Thanks Telesc! I will wait on the metro meds. Ill stop with the stress coat. I am worried about her slime coat. Today it looks better but when I first put her in the QT it looked like her body was so raw. I do not use a buffer. My main tank normally is consistently at 6.5 and has been for a long time. There has been but slow increase in the main tank PH and I attributed it to the recent medication as is started to creep up after I used the Tetra meds. Granted, that test result from the main tank was over two weeks ago as I only test it every other week. The qt I have been testing daily.

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I noticed you said "40-80ppm" for nitrates... How often has your tank tested over 40 ppm?

Always. It is way over stocked and I am in the process of setting up the 75 gallon this weekend to resolve this. These fish are really big. Amazing that they could live like that! It was 120 when I first started testing nitrates a few months ago. Before I only tested PH (did not realize how important everything else was until I got here!)

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Thanks Telesc! I will wait on the metro meds. Ill stop with the stress coat. I am worried about her slime coat. Today it looks better but when I first put her in the QT it looked like her body was so raw. I do not use a buffer. My main tank normally is consistently at 6.5 and has been for a long time. There has been but slow increase in the main tank PH and I attributed it to the recent medication as is started to creep up after I used the Tetra meds. Granted, that test result from the main tank was over two weeks ago as I only test it every other week. The qt I have been testing daily.

That pH is much too low. Goldfish need a pH between about 7.2-7.5. You may need to get some pH up. Hope we can fix your fish!

Edited by LauraThe3xplora
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Thanks Telesc! I will wait on the metro meds. Ill stop with the stress coat. I am worried about her slime coat. Today it looks better but when I first put her in the QT it looked like her body was so raw. I do not use a buffer. My main tank normally is consistently at 6.5 and has been for a long time. There has been but slow increase in the main tank PH and I attributed it to the recent medication as is started to creep up after I used the Tetra meds. Granted, that test result from the main tank was over two weeks ago as I only test it every other week. The qt I have been testing daily.

That pH is much too low. Goldfish need a pH between about 7.2-7.5. You may need to get some pH up. Hope we can fix your fish!

Thanks! I ordered some Seachem Gold Buffer and I hope it gets here soon. Any suggestions on an item that I can get at a chain petstore? I will go in the morning.

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Is your fish eating? Please look for Kanaplex from an LFS, and keep it on hand.

I would like to start you on a treatment right away, but I need to see if you would commit to 100% WCs daily.

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I know chain stores sell something called "pH Up" and "pH Down" and even stuff to keep your pH at a specific level, but I have never used these and can't give you any advice on them, sorry :( best to ask a helper/mod. A buffer will help prevent a pH crash, which is good :)

EDIT: Alex to the rescue! :P

Edited by LauraThe3xplora
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You need not worry about commercial buffers. I would like you to get this:

- baking soda

- Morton's canning and pickling salt

- 1 pantyhose hahahahaha

- Kanaplex

The first two items can be obtained at any grocery store, or Walmart. Kanaplex at LFS.

Let me know if you can commit to 100% WCs daily. Then, we can start while waiting for Metro-Meds.

Let me know if you can commit to

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Is your fish eating? Please look for Kanaplex from an LFS, and keep it on hand.

I would like to start you on a treatment right away, but I need to see if you would commit to 100% WCs daily.

She just ate for the first time today in two weeks. She could not get the pellets in her mouth but today was able to eat some small pieces of gel food. No problem with the 100% water changes daily. I have a python and am totally invested in trying to get her healthy. I will find Kanaplex tomorrow if I can get it at the LFS.

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You need not worry about commercial buffers. I would like you to get this:

- baking soda

- Morton's canning and pickling salt

- 1 pantyhose hahahahaha

- Kanaplex

The first two items can be obtained at any grocery store, or Walmart. Kanaplex at LFS.

Let me know if you can commit to 100% WCs daily. Then, we can start while waiting for Metro-Meds.

Let me know if you can commit to

I have baking soda and aquarium salt and will get the Morton's tonight if needed. I have Metro Meds on hand. I will steal some panty hose from someone since I am more of a fish net girl myself! (Kidding!!)

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OK, good, so the idea is that we are going to salt him at 0.3% to speed up the healing. The reason why I suggested Kanaplex is that it takes the eating requirements away until he can eat normally.

Here's the plan:

- salt the tank to 0.3% by adding salt to pantyhose and hanging it on the side of tank until it dissolves.

- feed him whatever he wants to eat. May be some soft and yummy frozen blood worms?

- do 100% WCs daily.

Then, if and we you have Kanaplex, we probably will switch to that, but let's get things going with salt! :)

What? What perverted things were you thinking with the pantyhose? :rofl

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Ill start the salt in the am after a water change. Ill search for kanaplex at the fish store but I ordered some and it will be here on Monday just in case. Ill get blood worms too. Pantyhose wise I went for a foxy pair of knee highs (two for one so I can wear the extra pair!) so glad ur a night owl like me!

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OK, good, so the idea is that we are going to salt him at 0.3% to speed up the healing. The reason why I suggested Kanaplex is that it takes the eating requirements away until he can eat normally.

Here's the plan:

- salt the tank to 0.3% by adding salt to pantyhose and hanging it on the side of tank until it dissolves.

- feed him whatever he wants to eat. May be some soft and yummy frozen blood worms?

- do 100% WCs daily.

Then, if and we you have Kanaplex, we probably will switch to that, but let's get things going with salt! :)

What? What perverted things were you thinking with the pantyhose? :rofl

Update: I did a 100% water change an hour ago. Placed salt for 20 gallons at 3% in the panty hose and it is currently in the tank (with some suspicious looks from the fish.) Can't find Kanaplex yet but will keep trying tomorrow and I ordered it as well as a back up. Fed her some gel food and she ate it (yeah!) what am I supposed to do with the baking soda? I also have duct tape, hair dye, and a rope. Oops, that was from the wrong shopping list.

Edited by mermaidkitten
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Just to confirm you added salt for a 0.3% concentration not a 3% concentration right?

0.3% is 30 teaspoons :)

I'm glad you caught that too Una :yikes

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OK, good, so the idea is that we are going to salt him at 0.3% to speed up the healing. The reason why I suggested Kanaplex is that it takes the eating requirements away until he can eat normally.

Here's the plan:

- salt the tank to 0.3% by adding salt to pantyhose and hanging it on the side of tank until it dissolves.

- feed him whatever he wants to eat. May be some soft and yummy frozen blood worms?

- do 100% WCs daily.

Then, if and we you have Kanaplex, we probably will switch to that, but let's get things going with salt! :)

What? What perverted things were you thinking with the pantyhose? :rofl

Update: I did a 100% water change an hour ago. Placed salt for 20 gallons at 3% in the panty hose and it is currently in the tank (with some suspicious looks from the fish.) Can't find Kanaplex yet but will keep trying tomorrow and I ordered it as well as a back up. Fed her some gel food and she ate it (yeah!) what am I supposed to do with the baking soda? I also have duct tape, hair dye, and a rope. Oops, that was from the wrong shopping list.

Oh, man. I can tell we're going to get along quite well. :rofl

I hope your fish feels better very soon--you're in very capable hands. :)

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Yes sorry, 0.3% salt! I'm trying to stealth forum since I am at work! I actually put tank water in my lunch box so I could test it again at my desk but I forgot the darn test kit. Im just happy that that would seem reasonable to everyone here since everyone else in my life thinks I am nuts worrying about my fish like this!

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