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Oh, No! Something Is Wrong With Graham!


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Hi, Everyone - A few days ago I noticed that GN was missing two scales. I did not notice any flashing before that or since. He had a water change last wednesday. I noticed the scales the day after (or two days after) the water change. I did notice something that made me think it was possible he might have sustained an injury during the water change, but I am not sure... more on that later.

Here are the current water parameters: (I am using test strips - I will worry about getting more accurate drops later...) *all units expressed in ppm (mg/L) unless otherwise noted*

~Nitrite Level? 0.25 (between safe and caution)

* NB - Ammonia Quick Dip strip (Jungle) has SAFE value at 0.25

~Nitrate level? 200+ UNSAFE

~Ph Level? It was low @ 6.2 this afternoon so I added some baking soda - and I added too much - it is now Alkaline @ 8.4! water condition - VERY HARD @ 300 GH (ppm) alkalinity (after baking soda) - HIGH @ 300 KH (ppm)

~Ph Level out of the Tap? Neutral @ 6.8 (before charcoal filter and Prime) water condition - HARD @ 150 GH (ppm)

~Tank size(How many Gals) and How long has it been running? 20 gallons/two months (started with 50% water from previous undiseased tank)

~What kind of Filtration? UGF only (I ordered an Eheim canister yesterday)

~How often do you change the water and how much? 1xmo./30% (by Nanny)

~What kind of Water additives or conditioners? Prime

~Any Medications add to the tank? Tonight, I put Melafix and some salt (baking soda for the pH adjustment, as noted above).

~How many fish in the tank and there size? 1xtelescope@4.25"

~Add any new fish to the tank? Nope!no plants, nada.

~What do you feed your fish? Spirulina, Pro-Gold, occasional shrimp pellet/peas (just bought lettuce clips but do not want to introduce it now)

~Any unusual findings on the fish? Such as "grains of salt", bloody streaks, frayed fins, fungus? Two missing scales, nest to easch other on one side and a thried scale falling off above those, the area under that scale was red and swollen being covered, discretely, by white stuff (slime coat?) - this swelling has abated since this afternoon (I added salt and Melafix). The lesion is focal and does not appear to be lice or anchor worms (nothing is moving on it).

~Any unusual behavior? Like staying at the bottom, not eating, ect..? He is eating and swimming normally, he is a little jumpy while the light is on - that's it.

~If you can what is the chloramines Level from the Tap? above normal - treated with Prime

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Hi there Graham - how quickly did you raise the ph? That's one heck of a mighty jump.

Did the ulcer appear before or after the ph rise?

Usually ulcers can be brought on by bacteria, ph swings or high nitrates, nitrites and ammonia.

The one thing that really concerns me is your fish has gone through a major change which will have caused him some stress...

Anyhow, as you've gone through a major ph swing - what i'd do here is small but regular waterchanges... try and keep the ph stable at it's current level and temp match the water. Your fish will need to experience a very stable environment to get well however, he'll need excellent water parameters also which is why i'd do small but regular changes. You should try and get your nitrates <40, nitrites 0 and ammonia to 0 also.

Once you achieve this, the salt and perfect water parameters should hopefully show some improvement. Salt is usually a great curative when ulcers are brought on by stress.

So in summary:

- small but regular waterchanges

- ph and temp match the water

- test until parameters are perfect

- raise the salt to 0.3% (1tsp per gallon every 12 hrs x 3 times)

- keep a close eye on him and check for any deterioration

Hopefully this will be all he needs.

Just as an aside - whenever you try to raise your ph with baking soda - you need to give it at least an hour before testing....as you've found out, it raises it slowly so can throw levels off some.

Hope this helps and please post back soon :)

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I could not sleep! Thanks for responding so quickly -

The descaling occured last thursday - just the two that are visibly missing.

The third scale, all funky in the pix. happened today! The swelling has subsided and the scale - jus tthe one - is hanging like a baby tooth about to fall out.

The pH swing occurred a few hours ago - long after his symptoms developed and is only a result of my meddling (I found datagurus calculator after I bothced the pH). I will do to remember not to check the pH until after an hour - in fact, I will check it again now... I s there nothing I can add to bring it down - just the slow water changes?

Don't the high nitrAtes mean I should do big water changes to get them down?

I think the nitrAtes are high because of my horrible (lack) of filtratration - the Eheim is backordered so I do n't know how long it will take to get here...

(Why am I paying someone to take care of the tank and this is happening?)

Can "petting" the fish cause trauma like Graham is exhibiting? I know you should not pet them because touching them will disturb, even strip, slime coat, right?

So, "someone" (not me" was petting the fish and the fish turned around at the same time and ran into fingers - it looked hard to me - and I remembered thinking right then and there - "I hope Graham is not hurt"...

Not that the params are helping him at all... :(

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I just bought a CO2 injector, it came on saturday - will this help bring down the pH?

Will Melafix help? At least, not hurt?

So, basically, pH, water changes, salt, and Melafix - BUT will it work fast enough to prevent oppotunistic diseases, e.g. Ich! (fungal) and other bacterial infections?


PS - I re-checked the pH now that it has been a few hours since I added the baking soda - still the same - completely alkaline! :krazy:

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Well the best thing to do is take a big step back and a deep breath...

A jump that high in ph can and usually will cause a small fish to perish... .... A fish can survive quite happily in ph ranges of roughly 6 - 8.5 - but they need to be stable.... i don't think you want to start reducing your ph levels just yet... because you'd need to add chemicals to do this which may cause more harm. I can't stress how important it is to keep his environment stable.

Now just on the water quality - without a good filter, this will be a bit tricky.

There's 2 trains of thought here:

Small (less disturbing) waterchanges.... Your nitrates are at dangerous levels which leads me to believe there's a serious amount of build up in your gravel... When you start to clean on large levels, especially when trying to remove such a buildup - you can't help but disturb a whole lot of mess. And the possible effect on a fish that desparately needs perfect water may not be good.

Do you have a good gravel vacuum? Can you clean the gravel without much disturbance?

The second train of thought (and my preferred method):

Remove him to a large tub - large enough for free movement (ie 10gal) with 1/2 tank water and 1/2 fresh ph and temp matched (yes ph matched), dechlorinated, salted water.

This would be my preferred method simply because i'd have more control over the quality of GN's water.... nitrates can be reduced enormously, and with regular waterchanges, you can keep nitrites and ammonia at 0.... Then with the salt, he's got the best headstart on healing :)

Then while all this is going on, you could do some largish waterchanges to the tank...The main problem here is until you get your Eheim (great choice by the way), there's no filter strong enough to filter out the floating debris that will be left by a massive gravel clean... that's another reason why moving him to a large, clean tub would be my first choice...

Just on the scale loss - fish can lose scales from simply rubbing against an ornament... it's not something i worry about overly unless there's swelling underneath - especially if water parameters remain as perfect as possible. They grow back fairly quickly :) As for petting - that's something i never mess with - i don't want to scare my fish and i'm sure they appreciate that :) Plus, you never know what kind of chemicals remain on the hands...

So in short, try not to play with the ph for a few days.... then if you see some improvement in GN's ulcer, and he appears healthy, you could then slowly (and i mean slowly...) lower the ph to the 7's - an ideal range... Right now, it would be too much for him to handle - not only does it cause sickness in fish, but major swings can cause burning to the skin....

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I'm so sorry about Graham, I got your pm. My thoughts are with you! I'm sure he'll pull thru, he's a tough little guy :) If you don't have a gravel vacuum right now you can go out and buy a cheapie topfin one for like five dollars at vvvv :)

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GRAVEL - I have a siphon - by Topfin - but I have not used it yet - I will tonight! I hope I can go it correctly - whenever i have tried siphons before, I could not get then to work - althought the sound and simple dynamics of it are clear to me mentally, they escape me physically...

TEMPORARY TANK - GN can go back into his old 12 gallon for a day or two but I have new fish and plants) arriving friday so he will have be back in his tank by then. I will do 50% tank and 50% spring water (which I used to use and it is perfect - I tested it) - with salt and Melafin - I mean Melafix (I always call it melafin...).

WATER CHANGES - I will do at least one big one between now and friday. I will trurn the gravel upside down and clean as best I can of larger debris. I will make a much thinner gravel layer on top of the UGH for better filtration - then maybe it will not be so nasty to remoce when I take it out ONLY after the Eheim has been running for at least one month. Whent he Eheim comes, GN also gets a bubble wall.

CO2 - I do not have a planted tank but I am expecting plants on Friday so I bought the C02 injecter (an inexpensive one called CO2 Fizz Factory with tablets) to help them get over "jet lag"). None of them are plants that require extra CO2

but will do better with a little "spritz" now and then. the intention was to put marimo balls in GN's tank.

EHEIM 2215 - I contacted the store and it will come in 1 1/2 - 2 weeks.

My battery is running out - I will finish off later - but I will say that GN has not worsened... so that must be OK. And, he polished off the lettuce I gave him.

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Hi Graham - good to hear he's not any worse - phew :)

Just wanted to give you a heads up on the gravel - even with an UGF - there's a chance you can disturb what may be toxic gases living under your gravel bed. So try to gently clean your gravel with your vac and only let what escapes it go through your siphon.

I have a vac that you're meant to pump before the water comes through the siphon but all that does is disturbes the gunk before it gets sucked out so I use the old tried and true method - i suck on the end of the hose and bring the water up the funnel that way :D then i start to vacuum the gravel bed.

So please try to be gentle with it and you should have a fabulously clean tank in no time...

Also, why will you be using spring water? Is your tap water bad? While source water contains harmful chemicals - with Prime, they are rendered safe.... Spring water is missing minerals and electrolytes that are essential... so if it were me? I'd continue using tap water :D

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Excellent advice above! :D

I couldn't make it out above but, you ARE going to quarentine the plants after you disinfect them, right?

I have a thread that I think you should read. I believe graham may be experiencing the same thing as this goldie (who is now doing quite well). Check it out: Link

My reason for thinking that this is the same thing (may or may not be furonculosis) is because in your pics of graham, the spot looks to me like it is pushing from the inside out. Much like a pimple or cyst. Exactly as you read in the link above.

By the way, the close-up of Graham is probably the VERY BEST photo I have ever seen of this particular affliction (if it is the same as the link above)........

Lemme know whatcha think...... :huh:


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I thought it was a great photo too. Maybe after all of this is figured out, you could donate it to help others figure out how they can diagnose their own fishies :) I know that photo would definatley help me...there isn't a ton of good fish disease pics out there.

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Whoa! What a day! I wish I could have gotten a Graham update to all his friends sooner but it has been busy here! This is he first time I did the siphon and the water and all that myself - boy - did I make a mess! And I flooded the kitchen (I hope the neighbor's ceiling will dry out OK... :unsure: ) - but, this is the end result:

First of all, I will very happily donate this photo to Koko's archives - GN was a very good boy to sit still long enough to get that lucky shot! I hope it will help someone else!

TEMPORARY TANK - GN is in his former 12 gallon tank with 50% tank water and 50% new water. The bottom is bare, he has a lava rock from his tank, a (fake) plant from his tank, a jar full of gravel from his tank, the bio-wheel that I had been soaking in his tank for a few days in preparation for the arrival of the plants and shrimp, and a charcoal filter.

NitrAtes - 40ppm mg/L = SAFE (this is reasonably accurate as water is only 50% water treated with Prime)

Nitrite - <0.5 ppm mg/L = SAFE

pH - 7.8 - 8.4 - ALKALINE (slightly lower but alkaline, as before) ;)

Gave him salt for the 0.3 therapeutic concentration and Melafin. That's it.

(NB - No Prime added because I used 6 gallons of spring water).

He's very happy and ate like a pig!

20 GALLON TANK - He has an enormous amount of bio-media growing (rather unchecked) in his 20 gallon tank so I did a large water change but GENTLY so as not to stir up evil water demons (can't WAIT to get rid of UGF after what I saw... but I will wait, I promise)! I salted the tank to 0.3 concentration to try to kill bad stuff and keep his tank similar with his current conditions. I added the usual double dose of Prime*.

*(Dept. of Health recommends against drinking it - I have been using a charcoal filter taking water through the tap and then adding Prime. I plan to return to using spring water for water changes once the canister arrives. Plant substrate to be added to the tank (only when the UGF is removed - 2 months from now) should help replace electrolytes - using Eco-Complete).

NitrAtes - 20 ppm mg/L - SAFE (all water treated with Prime)

Nitrite - <0.5 ppm mg/L - SAFE

pH - 7.2 - 7.8 ALKALINE (still alkaline but gradually lower than his current water)

The tank has cleared tremendously - (the water had been very green - and he supposedly had a water change on wednesday last :angry: ) - it is settling down enough to hopefully return him to his own tank on Friday.

FRIDAY - GN will have to go back in to his 20 gallon tank as plants, killifish, and shrimp arrive on Friday. Will it be safe for him in the 20 gallon? And what should do between now and the arrival int he next two weeks of the Eheim? Water changes only - how many? how often? Should he be eating MEDI-GOLD (I have it)?

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A few things more -

Kissy- Thanks for the reminder! I was so afraid I would forget to add the Prime! I'm glad the pic. helped. We should try to build a library of disease pix.!

Good :idea I could be called the Kissy Library or the Macy Memorial Library!

JenW - Thanks for all your great - and speedy - advice! I hope I did everything as "prescribed". I did a larger water change than I think you recommneded but I have this issue that I have to put GN back in there on Friday! I tried to be gentle as you recommended (I, too, sucked on the end of the siphon to get it started). I only took what came up - but there was a lot of gravel so I did nudge around a bit... Also, I saw so much YUCk! floating around in there! My Dutch genes could not allow it to stay! :rolleyes: It has settled now.

If this did release some odious gases, wouldn't they dissolve fully into air (being gas)? The powerhead is strong, creates a good current that agitates the surface, thus oxygenating it rather well. Since gas dissolves 100% into air - the tank will be empty for the next 36-48 hours - won't they "burn off" by then? I ask becasue I am afraid to return him to the tank if there is a danger I cannot detect... :unsure:

Toothless - hmmmm... Furunculosis - good possibility. I read that thread already as I was researching GN's little problem - I re-read it after you mentioned it. I was tinking he might have a fishy abcess... is the stuff in the picture puss? I thought it was extra slime coat covering the injury... I thought it was an healthy immune response, but only after I saw that the swelling went down quickly after its presentation. I was less freaked out when I saw that the inflammation went down.

Does mean this will recur? If it is an abcess (due to injury) rather than an infestation, could this be a "one-off"? Is this an opportunistic bug? I mean, do I need to rid the water of it or is it always there but only causes illness when the fish is weakened? Do I need to start him on Medi-Gold?

oh, la la! :o So much to know... So little I know!

Thank you for figuring it all out for me! I don't know what I would happen without you!

I will let you know how hw looks in the morning - he has not worsened :) .

PS - Toothless - I am planning on disinfecting and QT the plants to go into GN's tank (only a few Marimo balls) but neither to the plants for the new tank - the plants, fish, and shrimp all came from the same water!

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That is very strange. The main thing is that the lesion heals and you don't get anymore. You may be right in thinking it was an oportunistic thing after his injury, it sounds like there was a lot of junk/bacteria lurking in the gravel/water.

The toxic gas that I think JenW was referring to is Hydrogen Sulphide. I'm tend to agree with your logic that it will dissipate over time because it is a gas, but I'm not sure. Feel like doing another water change? :lol:

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:rofl water change! I am sure paying for all those water changes I got away without doing :tomuch: Luckily, I am recovered from surgery now so I can let the "pro" go! But, I better get more insurance first! :exactly

I'm going to get him back in his tank tomorrow on the strength of the gas-dissipation theory! Thanks, Fishmerized.

Graham is looking good! JenW, you get a "saved a life" star! :heart

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I'm glad GN's doing better Graham :D

Let us know how he goes when he's back in his tank - and I bet you can't wait until your Eheim shows up? :D

I'm sorry you had to have surgery - are you ok?

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Kissy - Thanks, Sweetie - it's becasue you were sending him positive thoughts!

JenW - He is back in his tank and seems to happy to have his gravel back! Just a minute of shock to the cleaner water (with a slightly lower pH) but now he's fien... KNOCK ON WOOD - (I hear too many stories of "he's fine" and then the next day - 911!)

I went ahead and switched him because the water parameters were better (lower nitrAtes and a better pH - I thought that would help the healing process more), the larger volume of water makes it a better environment, and the oxygentaion is better. Hopefully, everything witll be copacetic!

I added Melafix to help with the wound healing - it does seem to be helping (and water smells pretty)! That's it. I will continue with regular, maybe twice weekly, 30-35% water changes (more if necessary) and Gentle vacuuming until the...

Eheim gets here! Which will actually be one of the happiest days of my life :rofl !

Thanks for you thoughts - surgery was a good thing in this case, went well, and I am thrilled - that truly was THE happiest of all days in my life! I'm doing great.

But, I was in bed for a month and then I was not allowed to lift anything so I hired someone to clean the tank. I thought I might keep him on as a luxury but now I feel I really should manage it myself. (Hubby offered to help with the lifting)! WoW!

I'll put one more update in a few days! Let's keep our fingers crossed! :D

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yay :) Maybe I should start directing more positve thoughts and love radiation toward Oliver and he will heal as fast as Graham is. Glad to hear he is doing well tho!

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That's exactly what happened with my Big Red during my recent drama!

I suspect now it was just his immunity being lowered by the ammonia/nitrite levels giving bugs an opportunity to attack. I originally started treating it as a disease, but once I started getting the water back under control again he basically just started healing himself. As I hope your Graham does too! :)

PS. I vaguely remember Graham Norton was a hyperactive priest in Father Ted, wasn't he?

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That's exactly what happened with my Big Red during my recent drama!

I suspect now it was just his immunity being lowered by the ammonia/nitrite levels giving bugs an opportunity to attack. I originally started treating it as a disease, but once I started getting the water back under control again he basically just started healing himself. As I hope your Graham does too!

Precisely! I think that is exactly what happened (in retropect, of course)!

I am sorry I missed your recent scare (Mental note to self- do NOT read fish disease forum only when fish is sick) I am so glad that Big Red is doing better! Thanks for the good wishes!

I think I am moving up a class in being a newbie because I was determined not to panic! Seriously, I chose not panic (but I did want fast responses :tantrum - ah, I'm a walking contradiction!) because this time - I KNEW I HAD KOKO"S!!!

Thanks so much everybody - you're gonna make a real goldie keeper out me!

:heart Thanks, Fishmerized!

Kissy - Thank you! My current aim in life is to make Graham the MOST spoiled goldfish on earth - but I am getting some stiff competition here at Koko's! :lol:

BTW - I don't know "Father Ted" (I am guessing it's a brit comedy?) but it is entirely possible! the OTHER Graham Norton is an Irish comedian with as much character as my darling goldfish - they are both "so Outrageous"! :flowerss


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