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Possible Dropsy

Guest mariap

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Guest mariap

I have a 20 gallon tank that has been up for over 6 years. I have a gravel bottom with a whisper filter (100 gph).

I do water changes about once or twice a week. I use prime to treat the water. I feed pellets and occasionally lettuce

once a day.

I have a common goldie about 6 inches long and a ranchu about 4 inches long. They are the only ones that have been

in the tank.

ammonia .25

nitrates 20

nitrites 0

gh 75

alk 80

ph 7.4

I use jungle test strip

Temp is room temp ( my home is usually around 74-76)

My common is 7 years old and has never had any problems except for knocking off a few scales, I removed the rock

from the tank, problem solved.

My ranchu recently had a small cottony puff along the midlline of his scales. Used melafix and primafix. ( approx 4-5 weeks ago.)

Last week I did have an ammonia spike after one of my little helpers over fed the fish. I have been doing water changes

daily (about 20 %) after I initially did over half of the water. Ammonia was between .5 and 1.

The problem is that my common goldie looks a little bloated and when I look down on him, his scales look a little pinecone-ish. He is still very active, as always, and always hungry. The ranchu looks and acts just fine.

Do I treat with macrycin 2? I just got some.

Also, do I take the charcoal out of the filter?

Thanks for any suggestions.


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  • Regular Member

Hi Maria!! : )

Sorry about your fish! While we are waiting for a moderator or more experienced member to guide you, I can give you some intital suggestions and tips. There's a few basics that I want to write about, but since this sounds like dropsy we want to work faster.

The first thing I would like you to do is to find a way to seperate the fish. Do you have an extra tank or a rubbermaid container that you could use the get the fish isolated in clean fresh temperature matched water, dechlorinated, and preferably matched for PH? I'll post this, then continue.

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  • Regular Member

Okay Back.

Do you have or can you get an epsom salt? This is one of the first things needed for dropsy. If you have it, you want to add 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water that the pineconed fish is in. This will help ease the bloating. Do not use regular aquarium salts. They can make the bloating worse.

There is a medication you can order, which has been a wonderful help to people whose fish has dropsied. It's called MetroMeds and you can order it from Goldfish Connection.com They can overnight it you call them in the morning and talk to them. (costs more but WORTH IT!). It has helped MANY fish recover from dropsy. It's a medicated food, and I have had success with it, bring back to heath a fish that I thought I was going to lose.

As for why the fish is pineconing. Poor water conditions are most likely the cause here. You said that the ammonia jumped because the fish was fed too much(which makes sense). However, there are a few more issues. (you hate me right now I bet don't you? lol) ;)

Commons and fancies shouldn't be housed together. They have different advantages and disadvantages and placing them together in a tank isn't in the best interest of either fish. On top of that, commons require a minimum of 20 gallons of water, and fancies each need 10 gallons. Also the filter you have is actually not strong enough for your tank. Goldfish need at LEAST 10x filtration, so your filter would need to be at least 200GPH. But with the overcrowding, you would need even more than that. These things probably caused less than perfect water conditions. When the extra food was dropped in, and the ammonia spiked, it left the fish vulnerable, and open to disease.

Still with me? I know all of this might be overwhelming but I promise I am just trying to help.. I'll post again : ) Then continue.. (In hopes that breaking it all up will get the info to you faster, and be easier to take) : )

As I said in my first post, the best thing for the fish (both fish actually but especially the sick fish) is PRISTINE water.. As close to zero ammonia as possible.. How often were you changing your water before too much food was added.. Weekly water changes of at least 50% are neccessary even in understocked tanks. Then once a month a 100% water change. In your case, with the filter not being powerful enough, and two fish in a tank meant for just the common, you would have needed to be doing even more frequent, larger water changes, to keep the bad bacteria count down.

Right now, as I said in my first post, If you can get the fish in perfect water it will be the best thing you can do. That and the epsom right now. Maracyn II can be used for dropsy, especially if the metromeds can't arrive soon, but we need to get the ammonia down and the water perfect first. THEN I will PM a moderator/other member to help you decide a course of medication.

In the meantime.. If at all possible my other suggestion would be to invest in a drop test kit. The strips are by far better than nothing. Most people come here and have no idea what the readings in their tank are. BUT the drop tests like API Master Test Kit are far more reliable..

I hope I didn't scare you away with soo much, but I really want to help the best I can.. Are you with me still?

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I can't add anything more than what Sue has advised. Maracyn 2 works for bacterial infections, true, but it works on external infections only. Dropsy is internal. So, the epsom salt works to draw out excess fluids, which is why your fish is bloating and pineconing and which can help reduce pressure on internal organs. The MetroMeds fight the internal bacterial infection which is where the infection lies. The Maracyn 2 will not work for internal infections.

The cause, as Sue also said, more than likely came from that bump in the cycle from overfeeding, but also because of underfiltration and insufficient water changes. The fungus you mentioned your ranchu had suggests that a bad bacteria has been present for a while. The overfeeding probably was just the straw that broke the camel's back and sent everything over the edge.

You must quarantine the sick fish in at least a 10 gallon tank or rubbermaid type storage bin with a 100 gph filter with 1/4 tsp epsom salt and get those MetroMeds overnighted to you. Other medicated foods will help, but what they do is to simply stop the bacterial infection from getting worse and leaves it up to the fish to fight whatever bacterial infection is already there. MetroMeds not only stop the bacterial infection from getting worse, but also help rid the fish of the bacteria that is already present, making it easier for the fish to fight and build up its strength.

You also need to get drop test kits. Strips just aren't reliable enough and when you have sick fish and an uncycled tank, you need to have the most exact water measurement you can get. You need to keep all of the readings in the qt tank as absolutely close to 0 as possible. In uncycled tanks with fish, water changes need to be daily and this may require 90%-100% daily water changes, especially in the qt tank. Pristine water conditions are a must.

As far as your main tank, you need to do a 100% water change because the bad bacteria that caused this sickness is still lurking in your gravel. You must very thoroughly vacuum your gravel when you do your 100% change.

As Sue suggested, this situation is not working. Your fish are getting big enough now that the rules for single-tails and fancies is coming into play. You should plan on keeping your single tail in the 20 gallon with a 200 gph filter and getting at least a 10 gallon, but, preferably, a 15 gallon for your ranchu with a 100-150 gph filter. And water changes need to be every week in at least a 50% amount with a once a month 100% water change.

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Guest mariap

Thanks for all of the info. I do have epsom salts that I can add to the tank. I think my lfs may have medicated food.

I feel terrible about having these to together ffor so long. I guess I will have to put in some overtime or convince the kids

to trade one in. I cant afford another tank now. So I guess its more waterchanges.


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  • Regular Member

Your Welcome! : )

Please don't feel too bad. We've ALL had too many fish in too small of tanks before we found this board. I had 6 fish in a tank meant for 3 (tops)! Very few people realize how much space goldfish really need, and unfortunatly there are few pets stores giving out the right information.. We've all been in the same boat that you're in now. It's not your fault..

As for the medicated food. I strongly suggest you try to get the MetroMeds from Goldfish connection. SO far those seem to be the only meds our members have found that work on dropsy and that are also safe on the fish which is crucial right now. The other medicated foods might buy you some time, but this is the one that will cure if any.. Many of us have found it to be the best (and sometimes only) treatment for dropsy.

As for the tanks, just to let you know, a 10 gallon tank can be really cheap these days.. ALSO, you might want to check Craigs List. They often have very very cheap used tanks, and sometimes they come with all of the accessories.. I found a really good deal on there. Again, a rubbermaid container WILL do the trick in the meantime. And extra water changes.

Good luck with everything.. I hope your fish recover :)

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