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Brain Damaged Fish


Guest Wingfinger

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Guest Wingfinger

Hi there all,

I?ve been looking for a good goldfish forum for quite a while and I?m pleased I finally seem to have found one. It?s a shame my first post is quite grave however as it concerns one of my goldfish.

I had to strip my tank down recently (about 6 weeks ago) due to serious algal growth problems and the fish tank seems to be still settling. After I did a complete water change I used a product called ?Green Away? which promptly gave my fish slime disease and so they were removed and placed in a separate tank and treated with methalyne blue.

Anyway the tank had just been settling and the algal bloom was disappearing when disaster struck for my 10 year old common goldfish. I reached in the tank to re arrange a plant that one of my loaches had dug up and the poor soul must have taken fright though he?s never done that before. Didn?t he shoot straight upward and crack his head on the glass rim around the lid. He floated back to the bottom completely rigid and so I took him in my hand and held his face near to where the clean water was being shot out from the filter and held him against the flow. After about a minute he struggled out of my hand and back to the bottom of the tank.

Ever since that happened he?s been throwing little ?fits? and shooting around the tank ramming into things. He seemed to be recovering but then shot off on another fit, banged his head and it was back to square one. I then took the decision to remove him from the tank and place him in a large bucket on the theory he couldn?t hurt himself. I added a small measure of methalyne blue to help his breathing as he looked like he was gasping slightly.

He?s been Okish since I put him in the bucket and swims upright now and as far as I know hasn?t been having his little spasms. It was Saturday night he bumped his head and yesterday afternoon I removed him to the bucket where he seems to be doing slightly better.

Anyway I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced this and if there is anything else I can do for my wee fish. Currently he is lying on his side, gasping slightly and seems unable to swim upright despite being able to do so shortly after his accident. I doubt if there is anything much I can do but I thought I'd ask, I'd be heartbroken if I lost him. :cry1

I had a problem with another goldfish I have in around January 2002, she was doing the same thing but not working up such a speed she was seriously hurting herself every time.

Anyway the tanks vital statistics are?

Ammonia Level 4.0 (this has yet to fall away after I did the big water change)

Nitrite - 0

Nitrate - <50

pH ? 6.0

tap pH ? 7.0

tank size ? 3? tank that holds 24gal

there?s a fluval 4 filter in there

15% water is changed every week

no additives besides the de-chlorinator stuff

Fish are...

1 17 year old commet ? about 9? (not including tail)

1 11 year old common goldfish ? about 6.5? (this is the one with the problem)

2 medium sized shubunkins ? about 3.5?

2 weather loaches ? 4.5?

The Shubunkins were given to us about 2 weeks ago so they are new additions.

Fish get pond sticks, veggie sticks and freeze dried brine shrimp

Other fish are fish but the bumpded head one now has scars across the top of his head where he bumped it.

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Guest Chishower

Your tank is a smidge small for all those fishies, which isn't helping your ammonia which could be part of the problem. Of course, you must be doing something right if your fish are that old. Thats amazing.

I'm sorry to hear about his accident. If it is brain damage, I don't think there is much you can do for him. I would keep him alone in pristine water with a little salt, maybe to .1%, and see how he does. Maybe he just has a concussion, and will get better in a few more days.

Why is your PH so much lower in the tank? That could also be a part of the problem.

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Guest Wingfinger
Your tank is a smidge small for all those fishies, which isn't helping your ammonia which could be part of the problem.  Of course, you must be doing something right if your fish are that old.  Thats amazing.

I'm sorry to hear about his accident.  If it is brain damage, I don't think there is much you can do for him.  I would keep him alone in pristine water with a little salt, maybe to .1%, and see how he does.  Maybe he just has a concussion, and will get better in a few more days.

Why is your PH so much lower in the tank?  That could also be a part of the problem.

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The pH is a complete mystery, at first I thought it was the ammonia but apparently it's alkaline when dissolved in water. I'm trying to get the pH back up to 7 odd with small regular water changes I'm not sure if the low pH may have something to do with the aquarium salts I used? I've only actually started doing the water tests in the past few months, I'd never bothered with them before.

The fish have only been in this tank for the last 3 years, they used to be in a 4' 32gal tank but after the largest was blinded she didn't get on well in the big space. We moved her to the smaller tank and she's been a lot better since. All of the other fish appear healthy enough but I'd be gutted to lose this one as I've had him since 1995.

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  • Regular Member

I think I can tell you straight away it is unlikely that you scared your comet. Fish often jump out of their tanks to escape toxic water and I'm afraid that with ammonia levels at 4, your water is very toxic.

The reason the comet is no longer having 'spasms' is that now he is out of the toxic tank.

Your other fish are also being effected and will either become sick or die if the ammonia problem is not fixed soon.

What has happened is that when you stripped down your tank to start again you are also starting your water cycle again. All the healthy bacteria that converted toxic ammonia and nitrITes are gone.

At the top right hand side of the page is a heading "Cycling Tanks". Please click on this and read how to cycle your tank. In the meantime continue daily water changes of minimum 20% and treat your tank with a water conditioner such as Prime that detoxifies ammonia/nitrIte. When I am cycling a tank I use Prime daily at half the recommended dose for the total volume of water.

Also, if you still have your 32 gallon tank I would recommend setting that up again for 3 goldfish. Keep the blind goldfish and the weather loaches in the 24g. It is recommended that goldfish need a minimum of 10g each to keep the water healthy and allow them to grow. Your pH problem may sort itself out when your tanks aren't so overcrowded, if not we can help you with that issue too. The major one for the moment is your ammonia levels and getting that tank (tanks) cycled.

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Guest Wingfinger
I think I can tell you straight away it is unlikely that you scared your comet. Fish often jump out of their tanks to escape toxic water and I'm afraid that with ammonia levels at 4, your water is very toxic.

I can see what you're saying here but all of the fish were/are fine aside from the one that bumped his head.

The reason the comet is no longer having 'spasms' is that now he is out of the toxic tank.

Sorry I obviously didn't make myself clear enough, he was having spasms in the bucket as well as the tank.

Your other fish are also being effected and will either become sick or die if the ammonia problem is not fixed soon.

The ammonia problem is being fixed as I said, there are also "ammo-chips" installed in the filter. I was intending to remove these once the problem was under control.

What has happened is that when you stripped down your tank to start again you are also starting your water cycle again. All the healthy bacteria that converted toxic ammonia and nitrITes are gone. At the top right hand side of the page is a heading "Cycling Tanks". Please click on this and read how to cycle your tank.

Yep I know about the tank cycling. I didn't want to do a massive water change but our huge algae problem meant I had no choice.

In the meantime continue daily water changes of minimum 20% and treat your tank with a water conditioner such as Prime that detoxifies ammonia/nitrIte. When I am cycling a tank I use Prime daily at half the recommended dose for the total volume of water.

I was told that I should leave my water alone until this week and do a 20% change over the course of the week. My gut feeling was to do changes as you describe but I trust the judgement of my friend who is a much more avid fish keeper than I am.

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Guest Wingfinger

For some reason I can't edit the post I just made but in response to...

Also, if you still have your 32 gallon tank I would recommend setting that up again for 3 goldfish. Keep the blind goldfish and the weather loaches in the 24g. It is recommended that goldfish need a minimum of 10g each to keep the water healthy and allow them to grow. Your pH problem may sort itself out when your tanks aren't so overcrowded, if not we can help you with that issue too. The major one for the moment is your ammonia levels and getting that tank (tanks) cycled.

Sadly I no longer have the 32gal aquarium and I would not seperate the two larger goldfish anyway as they exhibit behaviour which I can only describe as friendship. When one is ill the other will stick close by it, these fish have been fine in the 24gal aquarium for the past 3 years and I see no reason to move them and stress them still further. There is plenty of room in the 24gal tank for them to swim around and not be cramped and as soon as I get the ammonia and pH levels sorted I imagine things will get back to normal. :heart

Another reason I would avoid moving the fish back into the 32gal tank is that the last time I did so the fish bred. I don't really have the time or money to cope with this happening again. :(

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Guest Wingfinger
Sorry mate, I can think of any other reasons, perhaps someone else will come up with something different.  :)

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Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post in the first place. I'm afraid however that I shall ever have the fact I scared and hurt my wee fish on my conscience. He wasn't looking good when I left but I guess I'll know what's going to happen sooner rather than later. :(

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  • Regular Member

Hello Wingfinger,

I'm sorry that you are having problem with your tank and fish. First of all, I think you had a pH crash and your fish (at least some of them) are showing signs of acidosis. Metals are very toxic in low pH water while ammonia is actually less toxic as they exist in ion form at low pH.

Can you please check their gills. Are they dark red or even brownish?

I would get a GH & KH test kit and check your carbonate hardness. You need to get the pH back up to around 7.5 but you have to do it slowly or you can shock the fish.

As first aid, I would add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarb of soda) predissolved in some tank water everyday and test your pH one hour after adding the baking soda.

Did you say that you have ammo chip in the tank? Did you salt the tank as well? Ammo chip and salt don't mix. Salt release the trapped ammonia back into the water. A trap for the unwary.

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Guest Wingfinger

I haven't noticed anything wrong with the gills of any of the fish I'm afraid, are there symptoms of acidosis I should be looking out for as all the fish appear healthy aside from the one that bumped his head and he doesn't have red gills either. :(

Do the big water changes affect the bacteria that deal with the ammonia and nitrites? I thought they probably didn't but my friend assures me that doing big water changes while the tank is still cycling got rid of the good bacteria.

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I forgot to mention this. :) With pH around 6.0, the biofilter is barely functioning even if it is well established. A "new" tank will have a hard time getting the nitrofying bacteria back in shape. It won't be easy to kick starting the cycle again. Better fix the pH first with baking soda.

When the biofilm is well established, water changes will not harm the filter but when it tank is "new", there are lots of things going on in there and doing massive water changes just upset what little balance or stability is trying to get a toe hold. As such, it is not a good idea. 20-30% daily is okay if it is used to keep ammonia and nitrIte under control.

Try using ammonia binders like amqual, prime and ammolock instead.

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