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tharlow

Comet goldfish with eye problems

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Greetings all.  Sadly I am in desperate need of your help.  Kind of an unusual one, so I will try hard to be concise and brief.

 

I have a 7-year-old, 14-inch comet goldfish with eye problems.  His right eye looks very bad.  His left eye does not look normal, although it's not as horrible as the right eye.  Here is his right eye:

 

righteye.jpg

 

 

Here is a link to a cropped pic of his left eye:

http://giardia.mcb.uconn.edu/~tim/Shimmy/lefteye.jpg

 

And here is a bunch of pics for more info.  The ones labelled **BEST** are what I consider the most informative.

http://giardia.mcb.uconn.edu/~tim/Shimmy/

 

49-second video of him swimming a few days ago (he's the largest goldfish in picture).

 

His tail is pretty beat up, and split in about 3 places.  The top part of his tail fell off when I dropped him (read below).  The shredding is new (since he moved to the pond, but could obviously be a hangover from being dropped).  Tail is not red anywhere, just ragged.  He is noticeably slower than the other fish (but he's always been serene for the majority of the time, with occasional bursts of speed when he wants to).

 

My take is that it looks like the lens of the eye is the part most affected.  That is, it's not external trauma.  His left eye does not look normal, and perhaps the same thing is happening to it as well.

 

He is in a pond around 2000 gallons.  Right now there is Melafix in the pond (2 days prior to the pics) at the dosage of 1 cup of Pond Melafix (the more concentrated kind, Melaleuca 5%) per day.

 

I read that eye flukes exist, but that seems very unlikely?  Nevertheless, I have dosed the pond with a full 16oz bottle of PraziPro (praziquantel, 1oz per 120gallons) in case it might be parasite-related.  I dosed it after these pictures.

 

My guess is that it's a bacterial infection.  Gram positive?  Gram negative?

 

I tested the water yesterday and it appears to be fine, albeit a bit softer than his usual water.

 

There are two large koi in the pond, and maybe 20 or 30 goldfish (all much smaller than Shimmy).

 

The saddest thing is that I moved Shimmy to a pond at the beginning of this month.  In moving him I dropped him on the floor.  He did not seem stunned, and was behaving normally after I put him back in the water.  In the pond he has never been observed to be eating.  Floating pellets are fed by the pond owner.  Shimmy has always been fed sinking food, and he seems to be having a lot of trouble adapting.  So I am not sure if he has eaten anything this month, or if there are other sources of food in the pond.

 

Basically the landlord said I could no longer keep him in his 100-gallon stock tank, indoors.  Obviously I would isolate him and treat if I could, but I am reluctant to impose further on the pond owner that has taken him in.

 

My options seem like these:

1. give the Melafix and Prazi a week to work, see if there are any changes. If he gets worse I could maybe get a vet to come and inject him with something like Baytril?  Obviously waiting could lead to permanent damage to his eyes if that hasn't happened already.

2. find somewhere I can take him to isolate him for treatment. I can't bring him home (landlord), and this option seems close to impossible (no fish-friendly friends to help out). That's why I mention the vet injection in option 1 (since I can't isolate him).

 

Test Results for the Following:
* Ammonia Level(Tank) 0 (undetectable)
* Nitrite Level(Tank) 0 (undetectable)
* Nitrate level(Tank) 5 or 10 (lighter shade of orange on the API scale)
* Ammonia Level(Tap) no water changes in pond (well water)
* Nitrite Level(Tap) ditto
* Nitrate level(Tap) ditto
* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) pH 7.5, KH 3, GH 3 (Shimmy's usual water was pH 7.8, KH 5, GH 6)
* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) no water changes in pond (well water)
Other Required Info:
* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API freshwater master test kit (drops)
* Water temperature? unknown, definitely warm, likely about 25 Celsius (77F), 30+ Celsius maximums recently for weather, other fish appear very active.  Shimmy's normal temperature is 74F.
* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 2000 gallons, established for years
* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? Some kind of lava rock filter and a waterfall
* How often do you change the water and how much? never
* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? never
* How many fish in the tank and their size? 2 large koi, 20-30 6-inch goldfish, and Shimmy
* What kind of water additives or conditioners? none
* What do you feed your fish and how often? unknown
* Any new fish added to the tank? yes, Shimmy
* Any medications added to the tank? melafix and prazi
* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment. none prior to melafix and prazi
* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? all fish other than Shimmy appear healthy
* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? assumed not eating
 
My heartfelt thanks for any assistance!
tim

 

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Welcome to Kokos. Someone will be along to help you. Hope his eye feels better.

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Welcome to Kokos. Someone will be along to help you. Hope his eye feels better.

Thanks!  He's never been sick in his life, and now, just before his 8th birthday (Sep 18), disaster strikes.  It doesn't help that his dad (me) dropped him on the floor, of course.  Poor Shimmy.

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Just clarify a few things.  Was he an only fish?  You said, "Basically the landlord said I could no longer keep him in his 100-gallon stock tank, indoors."  Does that mean you couldn't keep him in an aquarium? 

 

Was the eye fine before the fall?  I don't know of any treatment for a cloudy eye and I doubt antibiotic treatment will help. 

 

I'm sure he's eating, since there are always natural foods in a pond, but clearly he isn't thriving in the pond.  After 7 years of constant temperature indoors, he may not adapt to winter cold.  Do you know anyone who would keep him in an aquarium for you if you set one up for them?  A pond that has not had a water change in years may be OK for fish that have lived there long-term, but highly stressful to a fish that has had cleaner water.  Actually, an established pond that has two koi and a large number of small goldfish suggests some of the fish formerly in the pond didn't adapt to declining water quality.

 

I don't like to be a pessimist, but I don't like his chances in that pond.

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Just clarify a few things.  Was he an only fish?

He had a male common goldfish companion for almost 6 years, and then was alone for the last 2 years.

You said, "Basically the landlord said I could no longer keep him in his 100-gallon stock tank, indoors."  Does that mean you couldn't keep him in an aquarium?

Yes. Landlord said no fish, aquarium or otherwise (he was in a 140-gallon stock tank, indoors). 

Was the eye fine before the fall?

Yes.

I don't know of any treatment for a cloudy eye and I doubt antibiotic treatment will help.

I feared as much. 

shakaho: I'm sure he's eating, since there are always natural foods in a pond,

I certainly hope so...

shakaho: but clearly he isn't thriving in the pond.

I have to agree with that. Even though it's only been 2-3 weeks in the pond, he hasn't yet adapted to the floating food. The other goldfish seem much more active.

shakaho: After 7 years of constant temperature indoors, he may not adapt to winter cold.

Funny you should say that. My original plan was to send him to California (someone with a pond said they could take him indefinitely) using a pet relocation company (they quoted me roughly $2300-$2900 to move him from Connecticut to California). But I left it too late to organise, and had to find another temporary solution. And then I dropped him, might have caused irreparable damage, so shipping him in his current state to his new home... well...

shakaho: Do you know anyone who would keep him in an aquarium for you if you set one up for them?

I wish I did. I certainly would be prepared to pay for the aquarium and everything, but there are no options as of now.

shakaho: A pond that has not had a water change in years may be OK for fish that have lived there long-term, but highly stressful to a fish that has had cleaner water.

I feared as much, but the water actually checks out OK. Sure, there may be other things in the water that I haven't tested for, but ammonia undetectable, nitrite undetectable, nitrate 5-10ppm, ph 7.5, KH 3, GH 3. His water before was a little higher in pH at 7.8, and a bit harder at KH 5, GH 6. I was concerned about high nitrates, but those concerns seem unfounded.

shakaho: Actually, an established pond that has two koi and a large number of small goldfish suggests some of the fish formerly in the pond didn't adapt to declining water quality.

I agree. I will ask the pond owner for more background about that.

shakaho: I don't like to be a pessimist, but I don't like his chances in that pond.

I understand what you are saying, and I feel the same sense of dread, probably magnified many times from the guilt of dropping him. I am really at my wit's end right now, and I can't think of any other options. My gut feeling was that the common goldfish isn't generally valued as a species, and I would have trouble rehoming him. I would pretty much do anything to give him a forever home, but the task of finding someone willing seems beyond me.

I really appreciate the help -- thank you!

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I spoke to a pathobiologist at my university, and I will try to relay what he said. Basically the premise is that this is pure speculation, since it's almost impossible to diagnose from a picture.

1. The left eye looks almost like it's "all pupil." So, almost completely dilated (no iris). Possible neurological damage? (I did drop him)

2. Hard to see if the lens of the right eye is affected, or something between the cornea and the lens. Possibly a cataract (don't know if they can form in 2 weeks, though). He didn't say this, but I remember reading that cataracts can form from blunt trauma (such as a fall).

3. If stuff in the eye ruptures, it would cause a strong inflammatory response, so the eye would swell. I don't see any swelling at all right now, but I should monitor for this. Any rupture would be sterile, but the leakage of proteins causes the inflammation. So, I guess, nothing could be done short of surgery in this case (would be very serious, like popeye?).

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I've seen lots of older fish with cloudy eyes.  Other than blindness in that eye, they are fine and may live for years that way.

 

 

Shakaho: A pond that has not had a water change in years may be OK for fish that have lived there long-term, but highly stressful to a fish that has had cleaner water.

I feared as much, but the water actually checks out OK. Sure, there may be other things in the water that I haven't tested for, but ammonia undetectable, nitrite undetectable, nitrate 5-10ppm, ph 7.5, KH 3, GH 3. His water before was a little higher in pH at 7.8, and a bit harder at KH 5, GH 6. I was concerned about high nitrates, but those concerns seem unfounded.

 

Yes I observed the good nitrogen parameters.  One rarely finds otherwise in an established pond.  While you can't have good water quality with bad nitrogen parameters, you can certainly have toxic water with zero ammonia and nitrite and zero to low nitrate.   Organic compounds build up, and some of them are toxic.  These feed bacteria, most of which do not harm fish, but at high concentrations can run out of chemical foods and begin feeding on the fish. Runoff can bring pollutants into the pond that won't breakdown and just accumulate.  I'm rather surprised that the pH hasn't dropped which often happens with older ponds that haven't received any water changes. 

 

We have a forum for rehoming goldfish that you might try.  Posting there requires a minimum number of posts, but it isn't very large.

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I'm rather surprised that the pH hasn't dropped which often happens with older ponds that haven't received any water changes.

Me too! They sometimes call that "old tank syndrome," maybe? What's the theory here -- are the nitrogen-cycle bacteria consuming KH, which then reduces the buffering capacity of the water? Also, for some reason the nitrogen cycle has a tendency to reduce the pH, so when the KH falls very low you get a pH crash?

I found an article that suggests that there are not only beneficial bacteria, but beneficial Archaea involved in the nitrogen cycle. The forgotten domain of life!

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023281

Oh! And I have a TDS meter... so I will check the TDS next time. That might shed some light on the amount of dissolved organics?? And maybe try to convince the pond owner to do a small water change? Or convince her to allow me to do a water change, since I am a willing slave for sure.

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Aw, too bad CT is so far away from OH.  I'd totally set up an indoor tank for that champ!  I hope you find a loving indoor home for Shimmy that's close by, so you can still visit!

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I'm rather surprised that the pH hasn't dropped which often happens with older ponds that haven't received any water changes.

Me too! They sometimes call that "old tank syndrome," maybe? What's the theory here -- are the nitrogen-cycle bacteria consuming KH, which then reduces the buffering capacity of the water? Also, for some reason the nitrogen cycle has a tendency to reduce the pH, so when the KH falls very low you get a pH crash?

I found an article that suggests that there are not only beneficial bacteria, but beneficial Archaea involved in the nitrogen cycle. The forgotten domain of life!

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023281

Oh! And I have a TDS meter... so I will check the TDS next time. That might shed some light on the amount of dissolved organics?? And maybe try to convince the pond owner to do a small water change? Or convince her to allow me to do a water change, since I am a willing slave for sure.

 

Yes, the nitrifiers use carbonate.  The pH goes down slowly as the KH declines.  Around pH 6, something like a heavy rain can crash the pond pH to as low as 4.  This shocks and can kill the fish and will inactivate the nitrifiers, submitting the already pH shocked fish to ammonia.  Not nice at all.

 

We now know AOAs (ammonia oxidizing archaea) dominate most aquatic and soil ecosystems, including established biofilters.  21st century nucleic acid technology rocks!

 

Yes, use that TDS meter.

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I just visited to check Shimmy's status, and he's as active as I've ever seen him in the pond so far. He's nowhere as active as the other fish, but he's not hiding, doesn't look stressed, and doesn't seem to look like a goldfish who hasn't eaten for the last 20 days (total time he's been in the pond so far).

So at least he doesn't appear to be deteriorating, and neither of his eyes appear swollen. I didn't net him to check up close, because I don't want to stress him further unless absolutely necessary. His right eye looks the same (i.e., completely covered over and an opaque pupil).

Probably it's a waiting game now. The prazi has now been in for 2 days, and the Melafix for 4 days. If I see any improvement at all in his eye I could re-prazi after 7 days, say (I really don't think it's eye flukes).

My current theory is leaning heavily towards blunt trauma to the eye(s) when I dropped him. I just hope he stabilises or recovers to the point where he's not completely blind. I want to send myself to prison for animal abuse, but of course I didn't do it on purpose. Just one of those ridiculous moments of pure carelessness, and Shimmy is paying for it.

Next time I'll take my TDS meter, so that maybe I can get a better idea of what the water is really like. Thank you so much for all your help! I will now add "AOA" to my acronym library.

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I tested the water with my TDS meter, and got 66! What does this mean? Of course, there could still be lots of suspended solids in the water... are suspended solids bad?

Shimmy's usual water is TDS 130, KH/GH 5/6. The pond water is TDS 66, KH/GH 3/3, which means the pond water is about "twice" as soft? (The TDS is half, and also the KH/GH are about half, assuming the KH/GH are linear measures?)

I also tested the water again, and the pH was about 7.4 or 7.5. Same as last time, which is a relief. Temperature was about 76F (the thermometer in the TDS meter is +/- 2 degrees).

I will ask to test the pond owner's tap water next, to see how the TDS/KH/GH differs from the pond.

Edited by tharlow

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I've never measured TDS so I don't know what how to evaluate readings.  If the pond owner never changes water, a lot of the water in the pond comes from rain, which is totally soft and low in TDS.  

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The only cool thing I remember about my (pretty cheap) TDS meter, is when I dosed salt to 0.3% in the tank, and the TDS meter displayed 3000 (ppm). 0.3 out of 100 is 3000 out of 1000000! So I think it indicated that I actually dosed my salt correctly! I was pretty amazed by that, but maybe I have a small mind, haha.

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