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Sick fish for months, need help


Serka

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Test Results for the Following:

 Ammonia Level(Tank):  0ppm

 Nitrite Level(Tank): I don't own a nitrite/nitrate testing kit, I can possibly get my hands on one in the coming week if necessary. 

 Nitrate level(Tank)

 Ammonia Level(Tap) 0ppm

 Nitrite Level(Tap)

 Nitrate level(Tap)

 Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 7.8 < 8.0 (closer to 8.0)

 Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) 7.8

Other Required Info:

 Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API High range pH kit (drops,) Fluval - nutrafin test ammonia (drops.)

 Water temperature? water: 21.1 Celsius, air: 20.3

 Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? 30L tank, 28.7L~ of water. Has been running for just under 2 years.

 What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? Tetra Aquarium Power Filter Whisper 10i, 80GPH.

 How often do you change the water and how much? weekly water changes, roughly 30% each time.

 How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? Today was the last water change, roughly 30%, the time before that was Monday, same amount (I aim to do it every weekend.)

 How many fish in the tank and their size? 2 fancy goldfish, roughly 5-6cm in size.

 What kind of water additives or conditioners? 1. Equilibrium seachem 2. Nutrafin goldfish plus tap water conditioner.

 What do you feed your fish and how often? Tetra Goldfish Vitamin C enriched flakes (top/mid feeder) twice a day.

 Any new fish added to the tank? none.

 Any medications added to the tank? Currently pimafix and 0.15% coarse pickling non-iodized salt.

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

Melafix for a couple of weeks in early September. After a break for a couple of weeks and upon onset of new symptoms I added pimafix and 0.15% salt since the beginning of October. I took a break for a week somewhere near the end of October, but symptoms returned so I resumed pimafix + salt and continuing still. (More context at the end, it a bit of a story;;)

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

There are white/yellowish spots/patches of various sizes appearing on their fins (currently visible on the white goldfish's bottom of left caudal fin.) The past week one morning I woke up to several bloody streaks around the largest white spot on the white goldfish with the spot itself seeming to protrude from the fin, it lessened through out the day and the blood streaks were gone by the next morning (I circled the spot that had bloody streaks in red in the pictures). I could say their fins are looking more shimmery/speckled than usual but I'm not sure if that's just their normal fin appearance. Both fish have had white spots on various fins that seem to come and go. They very first initial white spot I found back in the start of October was very white and fuzzy with a green base on the pelvic fin, I assumed it was a fungus and begun pimafix. It has since gone away but new patches continue to appear (though not fuzzy.) 

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

They are very lethargic, they rarely forage in the gravel. Often they just float in one area of the water for hours at a time (sometimes this improves for a few days but the behavior returns eventually.) They tend to perk up around food time. Their poop has gotten quite chunky too, like long strands that bunch up together to form a ball.

 

Hello! This is my first time finding your forum, I've been at a loss of what to do with my goldfish for the past couple of months and would appreciate any help. I'll elaborate some more on the situation: I initially had 3 fancy goldfish in my tank. End of September/early October I noticed one of them developed sudden fin rot, I couldn't place if it was bacterial or fungal, so I began a course of melafix as per recommendation from my local fish store. He had no other symptoms besides often hiding and lethargy. This lasted for a couple of weeks, his fin rot unfortunately didn't seem to be getting better and I tried using pimafix instead, until he suddenly took a turn for the worse, started wasting, pine coning, floating upside down, even seemed to go blind (missed biting at food), and eventually passed away in early October. This all happened in the same tank as my other 2 goldfish (in hindsight I should've gotten a hospital tank.) After the passing of my first goldfish, the other two seemed to do fine for the first couple of weeks, until I noticed a white fuzzy spot on his pelvic fin. I immediately started a course of pimafix and 0.15% salt into the tank after how the same thing caused the death of my first fish. The fuzzy spot eventually faded away but new ones (not fuzzy, white/yellow blotches/spots of different sizes) keep reappearing on different areas of both their fins (typically near the edges). They seem to come and go but never fully going away, and if I stop adding pimafix/salt they seem to come back quite quickly. The fish are chronically listless and just haven't been themselves since. Their fins seem to be very shiny and certain areas seem a little speckled but I'm not sure if I'm overthinking it. Above I mentioned one of the spots suddenly developed bloody streaks for one day, I circled the spot that occurred to in the images below. Its worth to mention the fish had a stressful period over the summer, I unfortunately couldn't keep up with water changes as much for a few months (I sometimes did water changes every 2-3 weeks instead of each week.) There was also a massive heat wave that lasted about 2 weeks and their water temperature was extremely high, I tried to keep it as low as possible but unfortunately it would reach the high 30's and even as high as 41 degrees Celsius at one point. (It was not a very fun 2 weeks.) I would appreciate any help on getting my fish back on track, what I'm currently doing doesn't seem to be helping and I've been searching the internet at a loss for what to do. :( 

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They actually look pretty good. Those blotches and bubbles are quite normal, especially if the fish has had an infection due to poor water quality or stress. And some fish are more prone to them than others. It can be thickened slime coat from irritation, too, which you can discern by gently wiping the fin off with your finger.

The high temperatures can definitely stress them, be sure to use an additional air stone in the tank when it gets that hot if you don’t already have them going (warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen, goldfish prefer more). 
 

Finally, without nitrate and ammonia tests it’s almost impossible to help you, as the stress and bouts of illness are almost certainly related to water quality. That’s ground level basics for keeping goldfish healthy - we are water keepers more than fish keepers :) Make sure you’re knocking your filters clean in a bucket of old tank water monthly and stay on top of good, large water changes each week. 50-80%. That should minimize any symptoms of stress that aren’t heat related.

If you’re going to buy anything, a good test kit now saves you in medicine later ;)

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Thank you that was a very quick response. I'm happy to know they look normal, I wasn't quite sure if I was just over reacting after my first fish died, so thank you. I do have an ammonia test and it always comes out good, do you still recommend I get a nitrate test kit as well? (I assume yes haha) Also for the 50-80% water changes do you recommend those specifically during hot weather or in general? I've only ever heard people recommend 20% weekly water changes.

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9 minutes ago, Serka said:

Thank you that was a very quick response. I'm happy to know they look normal, I wasn't quite sure if I was just over reacting after my first fish died, so thank you. I do have an ammonia test and it always comes out good, do you still recommend I get a nitrate test kit as well? (I assume yes haha) Also for the 50-80% water changes do you recommend those specifically during hot weather or in general? I've only ever heard people recommend 20% weekly water changes.

Goldfish are messy animals and very sensitive to water quality. Unlike tropicals, they do best with large weekly water changes regardless of the water temperature, unless the water source is bad and more frequently smaller changes (like two or three small ones per week) are called for. That’s rare though. Most of us change down the tank to where the goldfish are just barely covered and refill, and that’s enough to keep the waste products under control.

 

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And yes, your basic test kit should have ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH tests. The API Freshwater master test kit is excellent and available in many counties. It’s your best value by far.

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6 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

And yes, your basic test kit should have ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH tests. The API Freshwater master test kit is excellent and available in many counties. It’s your best value by far.

Awesome will do, thank you very much for your help!

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Hello! I stopped adding in pimafix + salt since I posted here last time. It seemed ok for a bit, but both goldfish continued with their lethargic behavior. For the past couple of weeks they've been spending a lot of time in the same exact position, the white one sitting on the gravel, and the other in the upper corner. I kept observing and then a couple of days ago the white goldfish got actual fungus spots on his fins again so I added pimafix again. They seemed to disappear but today I noticed that the white goldfish has a tiny finrot happening that wasn't there 2 days ago. The white spots I was worried about earlier keep showing up in greater numbers as well but I'm not sure I should be worried about those as it was stated earlier they are normal. I started adding in salt again as well but considering this combo hasn't been too effective for me before I wanted to ask here for advice again.

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Did you ever get the water testing kit? I really can’t help much further without it, I need to know your parameters. What is the current water change schedule and when did you last vacuum the gravel and knock gunk out of the filter?

On the topic of gravel, we don’t recommend it because goldfish can swallow it and get it lodged, but if you’re going to use it you need to have an inch or less in the bottom there. That’s way too much and just traps gunk that can contribute to high bio load and illness in the tank :)

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3 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Did you ever get the water testing kit? I really can’t help much further without it, I need to know your parameters. What is the current water change schedule and when did you last vacuum the gravel and knock gunk out of the filter?

On the topic of gravel, we don’t recommend it because goldfish can swallow it and get it lodged, but if you’re going to use it you need to have an inch or less in the bottom there. That’s way too much and just traps gunk that can contribute to high bio load and illness in the tank :)

I ordered a testing kit earlier and it should come in sometime this week. When I get it I'll test it and update you :) But in the mean time, the current water change schedule (including vacuuming the gravel and knocking gunk out of the filter) is every week, and the last time I changed/cleaned all those things was today. I'll remove some of the gravel tomorrow as well, I didn't know thank you!

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Great! Remove the gravel and remember to do a bit water change, 80% or more, since that will stir up a lot of gunk. Post here when your test kit comes and we can talk next steps. No treatments for now, just keep the water very clean and feed lightly.

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I finally got my hands on the testing kit and nitrite came out as zero, and nitrate came out as near zero as well. I did continue to add pimafix for a couple days longer after we last spoke because it seemed to be helping. Right now they're acting better and more lively, one of the fin rot spots on the white goldfish seems to be healing but another one is still there (thought its not getting larger, may even be getting slightly smaller.) The whitish spots on the bottom of the caudal fin are still there as well.

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Right before you change the water next time test again and please post pictures of the test tubes, that will be a big help, the nitrate test can be tricky to read and sometimes doesn’t get shaken long enough (the bottles and tub each need a minute or so of shaking). In established tanks with no plants, under 10 ppms of nitrate with goldfish is very unusual :)

I’ve not seen Pimafix be effective, but if it seems to be helping it won’t hurt the fish so you’re welcome to try.

 

The white spots I’m still not seeing well. Are they flat color differences (those are fairly normal with older fish) or slightly raised with clean edges (those are different). I don’t see any in the latest picture you have upthread, which is why I’m asking :)

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1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

Right before you change the water next time test again and please post pictures of the test tubes, that will be a big help, the nitrate test can be tricky to read and sometimes doesn’t get shaken long enough (the bottles and tub each need a minute or so of shaking). In established tanks with no plants, under 10 ppms of nitrate with goldfish is very unusual :)

I’ve not seen Pimafix be effective, but if it seems to be helping it won’t hurt the fish so you’re welcome to try.

 

The white spots I’m still not seeing well. Are they flat color differences (those are fairly normal with older fish) or slightly raised with clean edges (those are different). I don’t see any in the latest picture you have upthread, which is why I’m asking :)

Unfortunately I have test strips, not a liquid test :( The water I tested was done right before a water change, but I redid it again (after a water change) and the results are the same. I took some pictures though I'm not sure if you'll find them valuable given it was post water change. I'll be able to send some better pictures of the white spots tomorrow, I was going to take pictures of them with a nicer camera when I found out its battery was fully depleted :) Otherwise the white spots definitely are raised, and seem to have clean edges.

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Yes those will be more helpful with older water, the strips aren’t super accurate and can be hard to read, but everything looks okay right now.  You can continue running the Pimafix if it is helping and refresh my memory, did you ever get meth blue? That’s a great antiseptic that could deal with mild external parasites or irritation and can help fungal and bacterial topical infections too. I’m still not seeing what you describe on the fish, but neither treatment will cause any harm.

 

The raised spots, please try to photograph them up close under bright light and if you can circle what you’re seeing before uploading here, I might be able to detect what you’re noticing better. Every picture seems fairly clean and normal.

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No I haven't used meth blue yet, I've just been using salt and pimafix so far, do you recommend I try it out even though I'm using salt already? I've heard before they're similar. I've gotten some photographs of the raised spots, they protrude on both sides of the fin. I've circled it in red in the pictures.

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Okay, I see what you’re showing. I am going to be honest, those are generally considered bacterial cysts and usually come from a sick fish getting better, which water quality, stress, or old age can do. But I have NEVER had success treating to eliminate them, and have them on half my own fish (long story, filter crash). Parasites can also cause them, but it’s so unlikely with your tank history.

 

My best advice is to just keep things healthy from here on out. The lowered gravel level and water testing, then large water changes when you get nitrate above 5-10 ppms (usually weekly, can be more often), is the very best way to handle it since that solves the underlying problem. But the bumps just stick around, and are harmless on their own. I have, very rarely, seen them go away over time, but medication doesn’t really solve the bumps unless there is an active underlying infection or ectoparasite like flukes or velvet to blame.

 

In this case, it’s your call whether to run any meth blue. It is health supporting and will help your system, but too much for too long can knock back your filter (it can kill beneficial bacterial in higher concentrations). You can experiment with it with the salt in and see if your fish have behavioral improvements. But do either the Pimafix OR the meth, not both at once. Either is okay with salt.

 

If you’re running salt, remember to remove it entirely with water changes after 6-8 weeks, you don’t want to keep it in there indefinitely.

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2 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Okay, I see what you’re showing. I am going to be honest, those are generally considered bacterial cysts and usually come from a sick fish getting better, which water quality, stress, or old age can do. But I have NEVER had success treating to eliminate them, and have them on half my own fish (long story, filter crash). Parasites can also cause them, but it’s so unlikely with your tank history.

 

My best advice is to just keep things healthy from here on out. The lowered gravel level and water testing, then large water changes when you get nitrate above 5-10 ppms (usually weekly, can be more often), is the very best way to handle it since that solves the underlying problem. But the bumps just stick around, and are harmless on their own. I have, very rarely, seen them go away over time, but medication doesn’t really solve the bumps unless there is an active underlying infection or ectoparasite like flukes or velvet to blame.

 

In this case, it’s your call whether to run any meth blue. It is health supporting and will help your system, but too much for too long can knock back your filter (it can kill beneficial bacterial in higher concentrations). You can experiment with it with the salt in and see if your fish have behavioral improvements. But do either the Pimafix OR the meth, not both at once. Either is okay with salt.

 

If you’re running salt, remember to remove it entirely with water changes after 6-8 weeks, you don’t want to keep it in there indefinitely.

That's good to know, I would've never guessed what those bumps are on my own haha. I'll keep the pimafix + salt for the next week to see how it goes given it seems to be helping a little. If I don't see behavioral improvements I'll try switching to meth + salt instead. Thanks so much for your help once again, I really appreciate it!

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Hello, today I noticed one of my fish may be slightly pineconing. :( Since last we spoke, I finished off the one week course of pimafix, and did a 90/80% water change. They seemed to look/act pretty good after the water change so I left them as is, then about a week later the red goldfish starts acting tired again and developed a fungus spot in the middle of its tail so I added in methylene blue + salt as you recommended. Its around day 3 of meth blue and the fungus spot is getting smaller (its rather light in the picture now) but I just noticed some possible pineconing as well and came straight back here. When starting the meth blue I did have to take the filter cartridge out because it has carbon but either than that nothing has changed. Nirate/Nitrites still come out normal as well. In terms of behavior he's very... wiggly? Like if he's staying in one spot he's very wiggly while staying still which I thought was odd.

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The meth blue won’t make the fish pinecone or hurt them, you can keep it in. Is this fish a nacreous scale fish? Sometimes they do look a bit bumpy from certain angles. If you can get a side shot and give me an older picture to compare to that would help too.

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I'm not sure what type of goldfish it is but im 99% sure whats happening to it right now isn't how they would look at any other time. The other fish in the tank looks completely fine too. The other goldfish I had that passed away pineconed in the same exact way as well. I know the pictures don't show it the best it was really hard to get a near decent one. I did find an old picture but it doesn't show it's normal scales well. I did a 80% water change earlier and it stopped the really fast wiggling, now he's just pineconing(?) and spending a lot of time in one place. I added in the salt back and probably will add in the meth blue later again.

Edit: forgot to clarify the picture is of it from before, without the possible pineconing

 

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Okay I need complete profile, no butts. The way to tell of a fish is actually dropsied  is from the side and straight down from the top of the water :) these partial side angles aren’t telling me anything helpful.

The fish’s peduncle is very helpful in assessing this issue. Why I asked if he was nacreous (he looks like he is, it’s a fish with matte and shiny scales, not just metallic) is they can often look a bit bumpier when their slime coat is sloughed off, which the salt in the water can do.

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Sorry if I came off a little defensive, my bad. I tried taking some more pictures, hopefully they're a bit more helpful. 

Edit: I forgot to mention he's also been gasping a lot :s

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Yup, he’s definitely pineconed! No normal bumps there. His eyes are protruding a bit and that’s another tell that’s easier to see from the side.

So we are at a bit of a crossroads. You can continue treating with meth blue, but that likely isn’t strong enough to knock this infection back. But if I’m understanding correctly you are in a country without easy access to fish antibiotics? Because a broad spectrum gram negative antibiotic such as oxytetracycline or Kanamycin would be my next line of treatment, and the a broad spectrum gram positive antibiotic if that didn’t work, which would be metronidazole.

Even with the antibiotics there is no guarantee we can treat the dropsy successfully, I’d say about 50% of the slower cases resolve.

So what treatments do you want to pursue or can you pursue? Clean water and mild antibacterials like salt and meth blue weren’t enough, unfortunately, and the options are few and not great.

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Yeah none of those antibiotic treatments are available in my country. I was already expecting this outcome for a while so I guess there's nothing left to do. :( Just out of curiosity what is the telling sign from the side?

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3 minutes ago, Serka said:

Yeah none of those antibiotic treatments are available in my country. I was already expecting this outcome for a while so I guess there's nothing left to do. :( Just out of curiosity what is the telling sign from the side?

From the side it’s easier to see if there is swelling in the belly of the fish that looks tight, like a little submarine instead of soft and curvy. 
 

I do recommend trying to find antibiotics via mail order if this happens again, I know it’s tricky though. I’m sorry and I wish I could help more. Epsom salt at 1/2 tsp per ten gallons can reduce the swelling temporarily to keep the fish more comfortable, but euthanasia is the best option once appetites start to wane or the fish seems to dart or hide.

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