Jump to content
modnar

Lethargic with red swelling above tail

Recommended Posts

My Mum’s goldfish has been unwell for a couple of weeks. He’s mostly been resting at the bottom of his tank (as pictured) though he had one day where he was more lively. The area above his tail is noticeably swollen and red, and the tail itself has also turned the same colour.

He was a rescue fish, who’s now ten years old and has always been active and healthy. He’s on his own in a 56 litre (12 gallon) tank. He gets fed two small pinches of Tetra goldfish flakes twice a day at 9am and 3pm. Once a week my Mum does a partial water change using Tapsafe water conditioner, rinses the sponge filter from an Eheim 60 in his tank water, and vacuums his gravel. She also changes his sponge filters once a month.

So far my Mum has tried smaller water changes every third day, and antibacterial/fungus treatment four days ago, but he doesn’t seem to be improving. Does anyone know what’s wrong with him? Is there anything else she could try? Can we expect him to get better/worse? She’s never been a fish person, but stepped in to take care of the little guy. She’s extremely attached to him now and would hate to think he was suffering in any way.

Any knowledge and advice would be greatly appreciate. Thanks in advance!

A77FA358-72BB-42C1-BF1F-65046663F098.jpeg

C381FE00-102D-480D-B526-F6F74748BB95.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there! I’m sorry he isn’t feeling well.

First thing, if your mom is tossing her sponge filter regularly please encourage her to stop, that ruins the tank cycle and makes the water parameters go nuts. I’ve had the same sponges and filter pads for three years, the best maintenance is just squeezing them into the tank water change bucket to get out the solid poo and old food and then putting them back in, or giving bags of loose media a good whack against the side of the bucket or sink to dislodge the bits. Rinsing the sponges with tap water can cause issues because the chlorine can kill the beneficial bacteria we need to keep the water quality high, but a rinse in old tank water to get the poop out is fine. 

 

Second, it looks like the poor little guy has an infection, in which case antibiotics are the solution. We will need much more detailed information about the tank to know the best ones to choose, do you have a water testing kit available?  API master test kit drops are the fave around here, and that will be critical to getting us more information about what might be going on in the tank during treatment.

If you have a test kit or obtain one, please fill out this form to the beat of your ability. You already gave us lots of good information, but it helps me keep it straight to have it laid out in the format we are used to; where I can look quickly to find what I need.

Test Results for the Following:

* Ammonia Level(Tank)

* Nitrite Level(Tank)

* Nitrate level(Tank)

* Ammonia Level(Tap)

* Nitrite Level(Tap)

* Nitrate level(Tap)

* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 

* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)

Other Required Info:

* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?

* Water temperature?

* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?

* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?

* How often do you change the water and how much?

* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?

* How many fish in the tank and their size?

* What kind of water additives or conditioners?

* What do you feed your fish and how often?

* Any new fish added to the tank?

* Any medications added to the tank?

* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.

* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?

* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?
 

Depending on which country you are in, antibiotics may be trickier to obtain. Online sources have some shipping time issues but that’s probably your best bet. If you’re in the US it’s a bit simpler, but it is still likely you’ll need to order what we require for treatment, and so we will want to keep the fish as healthy as possible in the meantime.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for your helpful reply. I’ll let my Mum know about the sponges.

Unfortunately she doesn’t have a testing kit, but I found an API Freshwater master kit 800 on Amazon which seems to have the drops, as opposed to strips, so I’ll go ahead and buy that on my prime and have it sent to her house for tomorrow.

I’m in the UK. There seems to be plenty of bacterial and fungal fish treatments, but I’m not sure if they’re antibiotics—I’m in over my head here. The one my Mum has is called ‘I Love Fish anti bacterial & fungus treatment’ which she used 4 days ago. It says to repeat the dose 7 days later, which will be this Thursday. The label says not to ‘redose or apply a different treatment within 7 days of using’, so I’m not sure if we should hold off until we know if there’s something better we can get here in the UK? The active ingredient is phenoxyethanol, if that helps?

It sounds like the fish is a little bit perkier today, which has happened before but didn’t last. He’s a tough rescue fish with a surprisingly big personality, so I’m sure he’ll keep fighting until we figure out the best treatment plan. Thanks so much again for your help and advice: I’ll get that form filled ASAP!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Getting the test kit will help immensely. The meds will indeed be a problem, though. The chemical treatments like the one you describe are bactericides, not really antibacterials - that is, they act as poisons/cleaning agents generally but don’t actually target the replication behavior of the bacteria, and are often much less effective and harsh on fish. Countries with strong restrictions on antibiotic prescriptions or OTC availability often have this issue, and we encourage people to order abroad and have their fishy medicine cabinet well stocked ahead of any emergencies, since both cost and speed can be factors.

 

Once we know the pH of the water and the cycle parameters I’ll have more for you. But in the meantime there is an inexpensive set of treatments you can use that are available locally to you. We will be dosing your mom’s aquarium with aquarium safe salt at .3% solution (roughly 1 tablespoon dissolved into each gallon of water). That, plus gentle heat (24 degrees C or so) from a heater is therapeutic in helping the fish recover their slime coat and inhibiting further bacterial or pathogenic spread.

On TOP of that, please buy methylene blue if you don’t have it already. It’s so good and cheap and helps eradicate infections and pathogens while protecting the vascular system and tissues of the fish. That and aquarium safe salt are some of the few treatments with little cost and no downside. They probably won’t be enough to solve this on their own, but should buy you time and not make things worse.

https://www.kokosgoldfish.com/UsingSalt.html
 

There are more detailed salt instructions. I will say that, during water changes, I like to scoop the fish into an old plastic butter tub or similar sized half gallon plastic bucket, that way I can get the water changed, salt dissolved back into the aquarium, and meds back in it without exposing the already stressed animal to those swings. It’s just a matter of gently using my hand to scoop him back into the prepped tank :)

 

On eBay in your country, the next things you need to look for are kanamycin, oxytetracycline, or nitrofurazone in powder or caplet forms. Usually these are available for birds or farm animals, if not fish, and we can work dosages from there. The first two are excellent broad spectrum gram negative antibiotics and fight most of the fish related pathogenic culprits we see regularly. The latter is an excellent topically absorbed gram negative antibiotic that is great for skin lesion bacterial infections and boosts the behavior of the first two meds when they aren’t enough alone. The last med I use regularly is metronidazole, which is a gram positive antibiotic and one that behaves antiparasitically as well. I do NOT think we will need it in this case, based on the pictures and description of what is going on. But if your mother is interested in having things on hand to help in the future that is the other biggie I keep in my fish first aid kit.

 

- kosher salt or other aquarium safe salt

- meth blue

- kanamycin

- oxytetracycline

- nitrofurazone

- metronidazole

- acryflavine (we didn’t talk about this one but it’s a great anti fungal, however fungal infections in aquaria are actually rather rare!)

If you think you have found some good local listings for meds or have any questions that need clarification please let me know, okay? It’s a lot to process and I’m happy to assist in more detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for your continued help. I’d hoped to be back in touch with some results, but unfortunately the testing kit hasn’t arrived yet. Amazon says it’s out for delivery, so hopefully she’ll receive it some time in the evening.

I’m going to level with you. My Mum is a bit of a worrier who often instinctively fights any advice she receives, so unfortunately that means I can’t yet get her on board with the methylene blue treatment yet. I’ve tried to research it and explain to her that’s it’s safe, but no luck so far. If you have any ideas how I can reassure her on its safety and benefits, I’d appreciate it 😉

The good news is that the redness has further reduced today and apparently he’s continued to become livelier. It might be something I can convince her to try if his condition suddenly worsens, though I appreciate that’s not ideal. I should mention that—with exception of one or two occasions—the fish has continued to be interested in food. I’m not sure if that’s helpful to know or not?

I’ve bought her some API aquarium salt, though she won’t entertain scooping the fish out during a water change (he’s a very strong, very jumpy fish). Will that be as issue? If not, will the salt on its own be helpful, even if I can’t convince her of the rest? 

As for the antibiotics, it seems I can only order them on EBay from the US. I asked around and apparently this is illegal and can result in a fine. It’s hugely frustrating. With the pandemic on she can’t take the fish to the vet and get a prescription, which would probably be a bit of an ordeal for her at the best of times anyway.

Without any better alternatives here in the UK, I think my Mum is planning to go ahead with the second dose of Love Fish anti-bacterial and fungus treatment, which he’s due on Thursday/ This does appear to have worked somewhat, though I’d much prefer it if we could legally obtain antibiotics or any other more efficient treatments.

I’ll post the results of the water tests as soon as I have them. Thanks once again for your kind help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m really not sure how much help I can be, if she doesn’t want to follow advice. I’m sure that’s frustrating for you. Water quality will still be good to assess, and yes, she can leave the fish in tank for the water changes. But the issue are the huge swings in salinity for treatment being stressful. If she can at least submerge a container and use her hand to ferry him into it, that should be straightforward enough???

I know antibiotics are hard to obtain there. Long term, yes, international shipping in is the best way to go. And yes, it can be somewhat shady. Calling the vet and sending pictures may be enough, though, I doubt they’d have her bring him in if she could explain and do a telehealth consult. 
 

Honestly the treatment she is doing is far more toxic to the animal than meth blue, which is safe and health promoting for the fish.  Here is a good summary of the basics:

https://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumMedication3.html#methylene_blue

Meth blue with aquarium salt is your best, non-antibiotic treatment that is inexpensive and has almost no downsides. If you wants to treat chemically with the anti fungal I can’t stop her, but it’s more aggressive on both the filter and fish. Like chemo when you could use iodine. Ultimately though, it is her choice. It’s nice of you to help her out, and I hope this information has assisted somewhat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It definitely has! Apologies for the caution though. The good news is that the fish is no longer staying at the bottom of the tank and his activity levels have fully returned to normal. He also continues to enjoy his food. The redness and swelling at the top of his tail seem to have further reduced, and he has less streaks in the fin section. 

My Mum is now not so sure about using a second dose of the harsh antibacterial & fungal treatment, but is still a bit spooked by the meth blue. She’s going to concentrate on improving his water quality first, and also use the salts you advised. If there’s no further improvement then meth blue and eventually imported antibiotics will probably be the plan. Do you think it will be okay to wait and see like that? He does seem to be continuing to improve.

The advise you gave on the filter sponges has caused my Mum to realise she’s been over cleaning. In fact, she thinks that may be what started the whole issue, as she recently bought a complete new filter, a new sponge, and changed his water all on the same day! She wanted me to ask if cleaning out the filter itself is okay, as she does this at the same time as replacing the sponge (which she’ll obviously no longer be doing)

Here’s the water test etc. Sorry for the delay.

* Ammonia Level(Tank)

2.0 ppm

* Nitrite Level(Tank)

0 ppm

* Nitrate level(Tank)

80 ppm? Might possibly be 40. May even be above 80? Three different people looked at the reference sheet but the higher reds all appear too similar, and it was too difficult to tell. We settled on it maybe being closest to 80 ppm, but it’s kind of a guess.

* Ammonia Level(Tap)

0.25 ppm

* Nitrite Level(Tap)

0 ppm

* Nitrate level(Tap)

0 ppm

* Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 

6.8 ppm

* Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)

7.4 ppm

* Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?

API drops

* Water temperature?

Unknown 

* Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?

12.5 gallons. 6 years.

* What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?

Eheim 60

* How often do you change the water and how much?

Once a week. 1/4 tank.

* How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?

4 days ago. 1/4 tank.

* How many fish in the tank and their size?

6 inches (9 including tail)

* What kind of water additives or conditioners?

Interpret Gold Tapsafe

* What do you feed your fish and how often?

Twice a day. Tetra Goldfish Flakes.

* Any new fish added to the tank?

None

* Any medications added to the tank?

Love Fish Antibacterial & Fungus Treatment

* List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.

One dose of Love Fish Antibacterial & Fungus Treatment last Thursday.

* Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?

Swollen and red at top of the tail. Red streaks in tail fin area.

* Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? 

Was previously staying at the bottom of the tank and briefly stopped eating. Is now active again and redness is reducing.

The plan is to use the recommended products/advice in the API leaflet to remedy some of the tank issues above. I’ve probably taken advantage of your kind help enough already, but if you’ve spotted anything above that we need to address urgently, or you have any suggestions about the tank or anything else, it would be be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Water quality first, definitely. She is actually crashing her tank’s cycle every single time she tosses the sponge! That’s why you’re showing ammonia, which doesn’t happen in a mature tank situation (where the beneficial bacteria detoxify and break down the ammonia into nitrate).  The nitrates are far too high as well. Squeezing out that sponge is critical but NEVER toss it or rinse it. Just squeeze/knock/hit and dump any gunk from the canister, that’s PLENTY.

Now. To get those nitrates down, she needs bigger water changes. Much bigger. 80% weekly, or half the tank twice per week. Either way. You want those nitrates to stay under 20 ppms for optimal fish health, and 5-10 ppms (light orange on the test kit chart) is far better. 
 

She’ll need to be testing the water every two days or so right now while her tank cycles again, and any time ammonia crosses the .25 ppms line, she needs to do a big water change. I like to empty it down to the level where the fish is just barely covered, refill it halfway and treat it with the chlorine neutralizer of your choice, and then drain it back down to almost empty AGAIN before refilling it with treated water. These two partial changes back to back get nearly all the ammonia out but don’t require removing the fish, which works if you’re not using salt (the issue in the salt treatment is those wild salinity swings causing stress between refilling and dissolve more salt).

If you’re removing the fish into a bucket for water changes it’s easier to do a complete change, but these two partials also do work. This will keep the fish healthy during what is essentially a fish-in cycle, and keep the ammonia and nitrite in controllable levels while the tank cycles. Once there is no ammonia and no nitrite (which you want to really stay on top of, it’s very toxic to the animal) and minimal nitrate, then it is just a matter of weekly maintenance of the water changes keeping that nitrate in the 10-20 ppm range, whatever frequency and size of water change is needed to achieve that. 
 

The water quality is the bulk of the issue, poor water quality leads to weakened and sick fish. Sometimes more medication and help is needed to get a fish back to good health, but solid water keeping and filter maintenance of the appropriate kind ;) is really what it takes, long term, to maintain good health in a strong animal.

These are the basics of the cycle stuff, fish less and fish-in, for her edification:

https://www.kokosgoldfish.com/cycle.html
 

Basically any time she is throwing away filter media she is setting herself back to new tank syndrome status in terms of bacterial colony maturity, and that sucks 😂 Best intentions undermining the ultimate goal, it happens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can’t thank you enough for all your help with this. You’ve been fantastic! :)

Feeling much more confident about helping now that I have all your advice to reference, and clearer about the path forward and options we have available.

Hopefully next time you hear from me will be to report on a healthy and happy goldfish! 

Thanks again. All the best and happy new year to you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...