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Help! Rapid Goldfish Death In My Pond!


Guest drsiebling

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Guest drsiebling

Thanks in advance for anyone's help. I have a wonderfully healthy all-season 500 gallon goldfish and koi pond that has been healthy for 7 years. Today, I walked outside and found 1 dead goldfish and all the rest of the fish gasping for air at the surface of the water. By the time I was able to remove the dead fish, get some salt into the tank and start draining, 2 more had died. I replaced about 25% of the water in the pond and hit it with a heavy dose of chlorine and amonia remover. The remaining fish are now swimming again but still behaving eratically. They are very lethargic and appear to be "gasping" as they swim. Some are moving better than others.

This completely took me by surprise. We had a very heavy rain yesterday that could have washed some contaminant into the tank, but that is all I can come up with for what might have caused this. 2 weeks ago I had an exterminator out who sprayed the perimeter of my house... could this have gotten in there? I was always under the impression that if insect poison got into the pond, I'd pretty much have a pond full of dead fish within minutes. Any suggestions on where I can go from here to protect my remaining fish?

I had just noticed 2 new fish in the pond (lots of spawning going on) a few days ago. I'd hate to lose them.

Curiously, the small black "mosquite-eater" fish that are also in the pond (around 50 of them) are all acting perfectly normal.

What the heck is going on?

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  • Regular Member

sorry youre losing you fish and it must be really frustrating not knowing the cause.

have you ran any water quality tests recently, such as ammonia, ph, nitrate and nitrite?

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Guest drsiebling

I haven't run any tests, but I find it strage that a pond that was professionally cleaned and balanced not two months ago would have those problems. The fish have been spawning like crazy for the last few months and behaving as though they were quite content. I looked at my pond and everything was fine this morning... less than 30 minutes later, all22 had broken loose.

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Guest drsiebling

I just added Methylene Blue to the pond in hopes that some of its effects might be beneficial.

So, did I just kill all my plants?

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Hi Dr.

Many herbicides and pesticides are far more toxic to our fish then is realized. However, I might add that with heat, the o2 levels go down in the pond. Also spawning is not fun, it adds to ammonia&nitrite without proper and timely water changes. Many things can contribute to sudden death's. One must first start with water quality, then look to other things. Too many fish, too little water, improper filtration it all adds up and one must delete all those through proper investigation Q&A.

Whats the water parameters, how many fish total?

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Hi there, first of all I'm sorry to hear about your sudden losses. It sounds as though your pond is well cared for if you employ a professional to look after it, nevertheless, it would make it easier for us to offer advice if we had as much info as possible from the questions in the white box. If you don't have your own test kits you could take a sample of pond water to your pet store and they usually will test it for free.

Insecticides are supposed to be harmless to animals once they have dried, however with heavy rain you could have some contamination. The previous poster, Tamianth, has had plenty of unhappy experience in this regard.

The only other thing I can suggest is to do another, larger water change.

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2 weeks ago I had an exterminator out who sprayed the perimeter of my house... could this have gotten in there?  I was always under the impression that if insect poison got into the pond, I'd pretty much have a pond full of dead fish within minutes.

If you've had this pond for 7 years without a hitch and then suddenly something goes wrong, I think you're right to assume a connection with a recent event.

The pesticide may not be enough to kill your fish, but it may be enough to wipe out a lot of the nitrobacter bacteria (like anitibiotics can wipe them out in aquarium filters) and you've got an ammonia spike happening. Ammonia causes decreased blood oxygen transport which would explain their gasping, as their bodies are running short of O2 so they're trying to suck more in. Erratic behaviour also fits because of the osmoregulatory interference, which makes them act 'dazed'.

But I'm just guessing as it really could be a lot of things. You really need to test your water (pH, NH4, NO2 and NO3) to know for sure what the problem is, or rule problems out at least.

If it is, and your 500 gallon is fully stocked, you're in for one almighty nitrogen cycle and lots of water changes over the next month or so. So all the best and hope you don't lose any more!

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Yup, and adding to that. What doesn't die outright, is stressed, stress=parasites=secondary infections.

There's also a exception to the rule on herbicides, Roundup, though deadly to carp is minor compared to Crossbow which dissapates and travels for day's until the rains wash it into the ground. Crossbow has deadly consequences to anything it gets on. Which is why its banned (along with a few other chems used in pesticides, household use items etc) for use in Washington,California and Oregon within 20 yards of any stream,creek,river and in some circumstances as high as 300 yards of timber. Sources to look up toxins and there study's are: PAN Database, EtoxNet.

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Excellent advice from everbody! The only thing that came into my mind with the sudden death is the oxygen level in your pond. Oxygen is very low overnight, especially with plants in the pond, which absorb oxygen from the water at night, and give it off back into the water during the day.

When you go out early in the morning and see a lot of your fish gasping at the water surface, you can safely assume that your oxygen content in the water is too low. Lack of oxygen can kill fish pretty fast, and the first ones to go are usually the biggest ones, since they need the most oxygen. Along with the recent rain (dropping pH could be a result of that), and the pesticide incident, it could very well be that all of that is a factor in the deaths.

Any sources for extra oxygen should really be helpful and life saving at this point - a few bigger airstones, a water fall, fountain, even lowering the water level (to cause more surface agitation for the water coming out of the filter back into the pond) are all things to increase oxygen levels in the pond.

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