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vickielm

My Fantail Is Turning Black!

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I've been reading this forum for a long time, but have never posted until now. Moby, my 3 inch fantail is turning black. I'm almost positive its from ammonia burn. This whole mess started when he got a cotton ball like fungus on his back just above his tail. I went to the pet store and they sold me Jungle Fungus Clear tablets, and told me to be sure to take the charcoal filter out. I worried about this, as its just a 6 gallon tank and the ammonia jumps up very bad with goldfish and no filter, even though I kept the aeration stones on. I did partial water changes every other night to try to keep the ammonia down. After 2 weeks of this, the bump hadn't changed and the tank looked crappy even though I was cleaning it. I went back to the pet store and they sold me PimaFix, and said again to keep the charcoal filter out. I couldn't stand to see him living in such crap, and the PimaFix said it wasn't critical to remove the filter, so I put the charcoal filter back in.

Now he is even worse. Not only does he still have the fungus bump on his back, but 3/4 of his body and fins are black. There is a small white comet also in the tank, and he has a large black spot on his head, but thats all. I just don't know what to do here. It seems like by trying to cure him, I have made him worse. The tank has been set up for 2 years, and Moby has been there for a year.

Someone suggested Maracyn, but I'm just afraid to do anything else to make him worse. I have read that when they turn black, it is healing from the ammonia burns, but I don't know whether to do anymore water changes or what to do now. He is such a good little fish-he always let me pet his back when I fed him, and its killing me that I may have hurt him, even unintentionally.

I don't have any ammonia strips right now, and the pet store and nnnnnn are out, so I don't know what the ammonia level is. Any help would be appreciated!

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Hi Vicki, welcome to the board! It's nice to hear that a 'lurker' has joined up! hopefully after you're through this problem with your tank you'll stick around and get to know us a bit better! If you can fill in as much information in the white box at the top of the page this will help with suggestions on how to modify your tank/routine to rectify the problem..

First of all, it most definitely sounds like ammonia burns. -That'll be because you took your filter out (I'm guessing you took the whole thing out and not just the charcoal, excuse me if I'm wrong!) and the meds will have tampered with the remaining bacteria in your tank that neutralizes ammonia (most of them live in your filter). Second, it's going to be difficult to stop the ammonia burns while you treat your little guys as you have two fish in a 6 gallon tank. You've been here before you said, so I'm guessing you've heard the rule of thumb having at least 10 gallons per goldie, this is a really good base-line. Although you can have a smaller tank for smaller fish, you mentioned that one of your fish is 3 inchs long, this really warrants a bigger tank for him, let alone having a second fish in there with him. If you haven't yet thought about it, you may need to start considering a larger tank. Your fish will have probably developed this fungusy ball thing on his tail due to water quality issues compounded by the fact they're kept in a small environment.

Without a filter and ammonia strips/drop test kits to keep your eye on the levels, you'll need to err on the side of caution and do 100% water changes every day (or break it down to 2 x 50% water changes) to make sure your fish don't get burnt. -This is a lot of work, I know, so if you've got time/money head down to your local shops and get yourself a cheapy rubbermaid container that's at least 10 gallons, -you can treat your sick fish in that and leave your healthy fish in the main tank. -It's always a good idea to separate out the sick fish to a quarantine tank to treat it, medication is stressful to fish, as you can see both fish got ammonia burns!. Putting medication in with fish who don't need it can cause a fish that has been living in a stressful environment to succumb to an infection that a healthy fish would have been able to fight off.

First thing is to get rid of ammonia, second to treat this fungus thing. I'd stop the meds right now, until you've got the water quality perfect, -if the water quality is dodgey adding meds will not really help. -Have you tried a salt bath? -it sounds 'basic', but is often just as effective on fungus/external infections as other meds and it is nowhere near as stressful to the fish. Pimafix is good for healing as it is a general antibacterial agent (like putting iodine solution on a kids grazed knee) but to fight the infection that is already there try using salt baths.

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Once the water is pristine again, your fish will turn back to it's regular color. My fantail is losing the black she was gaining a few weeks ago, and my Ryukin has already lost all the little black spots that appeared. Both fish are healthy and doing great now. At first I thought I was doing something right when I noticed it, but then realized that it wasn't so great. But luckily, they haven't seemed to suffered any harm, and I learned something valuable!

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Thanks both of you for the suggestions. I knew about the 10 gallon rule. The tank was a gift a few years ago, and its a pretty nice little Eclipse with the bio-filter and all. I thought 2 little goldfish would be ok in there. But soon, they were 2 good size goldies! I've always had tropical fish, but I think goldfish are beautiful and have so much more personality.

When I took the charcoal filter out, I left the regular filter running. It makes me mad, because I was so hesitant to remove the charcoal because of the ammonia levels. I definitely plan to get a larger tank, but right now financially I can't. I've been scouring yard sales and the classified because you can sometimes get a deal that way. I did go into the tank last night and remove almost all of the decorations and did a thorough gravel clean.

I do have one question about the 100% water change, though. If I do a complete water change, am I not getting rid of the good bacteria that Moby needs to heal? And does anybody have an idea how long it will take him to get back to his color? Once he gets back to his normal color, then maybe you guys can help me deal with the fungus.

He is hanging at the bottom of the tank, but still eating, and so is the comet. It sounds silly, but I swear it breaks my heart when I see him covered in black.

Thanks for the ideas. I have stopped the meds for now until he gets past this. I have read on the internet that this is called "black smudge". If its the same thing, I read its caused by ammonia burns, and the black is like scabbing where the fish is healing. I'm wondering if I should take out the gravel, but I hate to do anything to stress him out further right now.

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It's great to hear that your little guys are growing, you are obviously doing them some good, it's a bummer about the tank tho' :(

you might want to consider putting back some fresh charcoal if you've got it to adsorb the remaining meds out of the water, if you've got enough money you might want to purchase some zeolite product like 'nitrasorb' that you can stick in your filter, zeolite is a type of clay that adsorbs ammonia/nitrite/nitrates and can be helpful if you have a cycle crash.

most of your bacteria live in your filter and are not free-floating in the water, so if you drain your tank and fill it with water that has been pre-treated with dechlorinator and is isotonic/isothermic and pH matched to your original tank water you would not be getting rid of much of you bacteria. Since you've wiped your bacteria with the treatment there wont be much in there to begin with, but the most important thing is to get the ammonia/nitrites to zero, you can worry about the bacteria after your fish are in pristine water.

as far as healing goes, I had a fish that developped fin-rot (due to being chased by a male, not because of poor water quality), after treatment the ends of her tail/fins where the infection was turned black (similar to the ammonia burns, -the melanophore migration I think it's called, it occurs in response to any sort of skin trauma), the black resolved in about 1 1/2 - 2 weeks. the new regrowth of fins was white, but changed back into the original orange colour after about 1-2 months.

I'm always one for bare bottoms :ignore but you may want to consider holding off doing this if you're worried about stressing your fish out.

If the fungus is not getting any worse on your fish I'd leave it a couple of days before further treatment, you never know, just doing all the waterchanges and keeping the water pristine might be enough to kick-start your fishes immune system and the fungus might resolve itself. otherwise start with salt-baths, you dont need to wait until the black goes away before using salt. it's like a bit of a tonic and I reckon that cant be bad for 'scabs' -I always try to get a dip in the ocean if I've got any cuts, it always seems to help heal. Pimafix can also be used to expediate healing, but I'd give it a couple of days with really clean water before adding anything else. good luck!

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I went this morning to the pet store, and they finally had the ammonia test strips. Even after doing a 50% water change last night, the ammonia level was still in the 3.0 area, which is too high for sure. I got some Jungle Ammonia Clear, and have finally gotten it down to .5. I had never thought of not using gravel until I read about it on here, and I love the look of the tanks with just the clear pebbles. Moby seems a little more frisky today, but still covered in black and not himself at all. Do you think I should chance tearing the tank down tomorrow and taking the gravel out, since I'm doing a water change anyway?

Wow. I thought I knew about fish, but I am dumb as a stump about goldies. I feel like I'm doing everything I can thanks to all of your guys's suggestions. I really love my fish, and didn't mean to be a bad "mom", but we all know where the road is paved with good intentions leads to, I guess.

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hey hun, don't take it out on yourself, you're not a bad fish mom, you came here to get help right? a bad fish mom would have just given up on the fish and bought new ones....

sounds like it isn't going to do much more harm to your fish if you totally tear down the tank and get rid of the gravel at this stage that will really help if there's lots of mulm rotting under there, without your biological filter that stuff is going to keep releasing ammonia into the water. it really would help to get a cheapy large plastic container or tote box and separate out your fish into a larger overall volume of water while you get you biological filter reestblished, it will help reduce the ammonia spikes you are getting.

I'm not sure what it's like in the US but here you can pick up a 10 gallon plastic tote box for about $10-15 at a "$2+ shop", this can be a good addition to your goldy keeping kit as it will also make a good quarrantine tank when you will inevitably need it in the future (belive me I've got a few in my cupboard!)

Even once your water is pristine it will take a good couple of weeks for the black pigment to clear, so don't worry, as long as you can keep your ammonia at 0 your fish are no longer being harmed.

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I see Mads is taking very good care of you. The best thing you can do is get your fish into a proper tank as soon as humanly possible, but I know sometimes finances don't always cooperate. Just know that once that happens, you're going to see these problems disappear once you have a properly cycled tank. You can keep an eye on your local newspaper, garage sales, and www.craigslist.com for some great tank deals. I've even seen them for free!

Is there anyway you can get the test drops instead of those strips? I used the strips for a while when I was a new fish owner, and they never seemed to be accurate. I started using the drops, and I never went back to the strips.

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Thanks so much all for your help!

I will go and get a 10 gallon tub tomorrow, and tear down the tank and recycle it. I will also look for the drops, but I live in a small rural town. We have a pretty nice pet store here, but the nearest really big one is 30 miles away. I'll do what I can about that.

Moby seems a little more active since I got the ammonia level down some. At least he is at the top of the tank now, but I absolutely must get a bigger tank as soon as possible.

I guess now what will happen will happen, and I'll do the best I can for him.

I just love this forum, I can't believe all I have learned in such a short time! Hopefully, when he gets the black off, I'll post a picture of a healthy fish. He really is a beauty when he's gold.

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Hey Mads and Lola,

Just wanted to check in and tell you what I've done. I tore the tank down this morning, took out all gravel. Not totally barebottom, but just some glass pebbles to hold down the few plants until I get some plants with suction cups. Water is pristine...ammonia level 0 finally. I didn't change the charcoal filter, as I saw on here that the filter has good bacteria. Other than that, we are starting over from the beginning. I am searching for a bigger tank, but in the meantime I have taken almost everything out to give Moby the room he needs. I have stopped the meds for now until he gets rid of the black. Then maybe you can give me some tips about what to do about the fungus on his back.

If Moby lives, it'll be because of the good advice you gave me, and if he doesn't, I'll know I did the best I could. Now, I guess I just watch and wait.

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Good job on the gravel, Vickielm - just keep an eye on the ammonia and nitrite readings, since the gravel held a good amount of beneficial bacteria that isn't there anymore now. I would have hung a stocking full with the gravel onto the tank for a while or stuff it inside the filter, but since its out now, can't do much about it, except watching the water readings.

And just maybe, with better water, the fungus might go away as well. A lot of things are caused by water issues, and as soon as those issues are improved, it is quite amazing how things will go back where they are supposed to be. Not everything needs medication, and I always believe in the "the less, the better" approach...

Keep us posted on the fish's improvements... :thumbs:

Oh, and I will move this thread out of the 911 section for now, and we'll keep checking it in the diagnosis section, but please, if anything brews up again, feel free to holler, and we'll put it right back there.

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Well, the gravel is in a plastic trash bag on the top of my trash right now and its sealed, so I can get enough out to put in a stocking if you think it has beneficial bacteria. I'll do that, and thanks!

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I did get a stocking full of gravel and hung it on the side. One thing, though, I have no way to test the nitrites. The ammonia level is 0, and I'm doing a partial water change every day, and the PH is 7.0. I don't have a kit for the nitrites.

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Ranchugirl, I forgot to ask you how long do I want to keep this stocking with gravel in the tank?

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vickie- hi and welcome! I just wondered how long the gravel was out of the water because those goodbugs are water borne and do not survive for very long outside of the water so unless they were actually thrown out in a bag submerging them in water I am afraid they are not much good now.

(If by any chance they were thrown out with water then you could just rinse them in a little tank water in a bucket and hang them back in for a month or so while you re-cycle your tank.)

Oh and about the ammonia burns. You know your fish will get its color back, it just takes time. The black can hang around a long time and then disappear in a few days! It is an amazing thing :) .

You maybe won't notice nitrites yet if you have gone back to square one because ammonia is the first stage of cycling. You'll need to get a nitrite kit very soon though as nitrites will kick in any time from another day or 2 to a week or 2 from now. It's really best to test every day from now for both.

Edited by Trinket

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Hi, Trinket, the rocks were sealed up in 2 plastic bags, and still had tank water in them. I just got enough for a stocking, rinsed them in some water I had drained from the tank, and hung it on the side. I have noticed, though, in changing the water that it looks like some scales are in the water. Moby looks fine, and is eating and swimming around (although still not himself). Are the scales where he is healing, maybe shedding the scabbed ones? The white comet is noticeably better, almost completely white again.

And what should the nitrite level be? I'll try to get a kit today at the pet store.

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That is good news :thumb: ! I think they will make it and recover fine. You are doing great! You just need to give them time in perfect water. It is that simple 9 times out of 10 in fact. Perfect water is btw ammonia 0, nitrites 0 pH stable -around 7 to 8 and nitrates -final product after cycling-below 20 or even 10. Of course perfect water also carries a low load bacterial load and next to no parasites :)

The rocks should help a little in speeding up the boring cycling process that when completed will (along with regular waterchanges) keep your fish safe and happy.

The scales you saw may have come off where the fungus is and will grow back.

Can't wait to see pics of your babes!

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If it hadn't been for help from this forum, I'm positive my fish would've died. I just can't say thank you enough to you all! :rolleyes:

As soon as the black is gone, I'll be ready for some advice about the fungus on Moby's back, which is what started the whole nightmare!

But then again, if not for the fungus, I would not have found out that I hadn't been taking care of him properly! :exactly

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Just wanted to post and let you all know how Moby is doing. For the first time in almost a month, he is swimming around like he's dancing! I swear he is, lol! The white comet is completely white now, and while Moby still has some black on him, its vastly improved. He is more like himself than he's been for weeks, and once again racing up to the top of the tank for food like he's starving and letting me pet him again. It seems like since I got a bigger airstone, one that covers the whole back of the tank, he's just been 100% better! I am just so happy! I thought for sure I was going to lose him. :whatjust:

Now, I'm still looking for a bigger tank for them. My question is this...when I get the tank, do I let it cycle through before I put him in, and use the water from the smaller tank? I've had problems transferring goldfish to different tanks before, and absolutely don't want to do anything to jeopardize him now that he's better, or well on his way. What is the best way to set up the new tank when I get it, and the best way to get him settled in?

Oh, and another thing...the fungus bump on his back is noticeably smaller. Wow.

Edited by vickielm

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:pianobanana :

This news made my day allright! Isn't it amazing what perfect water and TLC can do for these fish. :goodjob

A 'dancing' fish is a happy fish :D

So ,carry on checking the water daily and if you notice any ammonia or nitrites at all change out some water to get those down again.

I don't know when you plan on getting a new tank but people here will be happy to talk you through it when you do, in a new thread perhaps. We have all transferred tanks and mostly successfully. It isn't so hard.

Basically you will want to be transferring the filter to the new tank as it is complete with sponge filter material and hopefully it will fit on the new tank alongside the filter that the new tank comes with. Its a very wise idea to have at least 2 filters running on a tank.

If that wasn't possible you could just transfer the filter media into the new filterbox. The same benefits of media minus gph turnover power.

One piece of advice for now: stuff your filter box with as much media as you possibly can. Sponge is good but ceramic hoops and balls are even better. Check out the water forum for lots of ideas. All this media is a platform for the beneficial bacteria (bbs) to grow on. The more you have, the stronger your tank will be at fighting disease and keeping the water nitrite and ammonia free. Also with alarger tank you'll need more media. So pack in as much as you can and leave the gravel stocking in too, rinsing it at least once a week of course. That gravel can also go inside the new tank's filter box.

Edited by Trinket

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Hey Vickie! good to hear that your fish is looking happier! hope his recovery is a speedy one and you can post us a pic soon! :D hang around here if you've got the time or inclination, there's some really cool characters who frequent this board!

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He is just sooooo much better!

I plan to stay on here, as I learn more about goldies every day, and intend to get a huge tank for them for Christmas, lol!

Right now I am closely watching levels in water and doing 50% water changes until I get a bigger tank for Moby and his little buddy, who has stuck by him through his whole illness, prodding him when he didn't want to move, and just generally hanging in there with him. I never named the white comet and don't know if its a male or female, but think I'll call it Florence Nightingale, lol!

I'll post a pic of him shortly, as he's turning "golder" every day!

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Hey Vickie that's a great name. Then if he turns out to be male you can discard the Florence part and Nightingale is cool too :D

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intend to get a huge tank for them for Christmas, lol!

lol! sounds like you're well on the way to getting a goldfish addiction! Justifying buying a new tank coz it's christmas etc! sounds like a lot of people on this board! :rofl when it comes to it, anything can be used for justification. You're having a good day, you're having a bad day, 'it's such a nice day', 'it was horrible outside so...' personal anniversaries are always a good one! :D

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Hey Mads

I posted this on another thread, but I'm so excited I got such a great bargain! A 30 gal. tall tank and stand for $35. I talked her down to $40, then $35 because I didn't want the bucket of rocks she had with it, lol! Tank, pump, light, and filter! I'm beside myself,LOL! :krazy:

Now here's the thing...I didn't have anyplace to put the tank except where the smaller tank was. I needed the filter, water, and media from the small tank so it would help the bigger tank cycle, so I had to take a chance and put Moby and Florence in their new home. I have 2 filters in it, and the big one cycles 40 gpm according to the lady I bought it from. Also the smaller filter from the old tank. I also put most of the water from the old tank, which was still pristine, in the new tank. One large airstone in the back and a smaller one in the front. No gravel, just glass pebbles and some decorative plants.

I know to watch the ammonia level like a hawk for at least 10 days, then watch the nitrites, which I will get a kit for tomorrow.

I hope I haven't done the wrong thing, but there was no other way around setting the tank up for them. I swear, they seem so happy!! Rooting and chasing each other, swimming like they're on steroids or something! And they got a few peas for the first time tonight...absolutely loved them! I never knew goldies ate peas!

I'd post a pic but it won't let me since I don't have 101 posts yet, although I'm working on it, lol!

Its become an addiction, and I love it! Not a cheap hobby, but its not bad once you get lined out.

Is there anything else I need to watch out for while the tank is cycling?

You all are great and I love this forum! :heart

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