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Help! Can anyone advise what might be wrong with my goldfish?
Posted on: 6/9/2017 19:59
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26/3/2010 11:12
From: West Yorkshire
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Hi,

It's been a long time since I posted on this forum but I'm hoping someone might be able to offer me some advice. Apologies in advance for the somewhat lengthy post...

I have mature 125ltr tank which houses just the one goldfish, who's around 15 years old. Around 3-4 weeks ago he got a very large piece of gravel stuck in his mouth which I was unable to remove myself, despite repeated attempts. I was fortunate enough to be able to find a chap locally who deals with aquarium maintenance/emergencies and, mercifully, he was able to come round and remove the stone, although it took quite some time. Afterwards I made the decision to strip the tank down and replace the gravel with river sand as I didn't want a recurrence. I waited a week between the stone removal and the switch as I felt he'd already suffered enough stress and didn't want to subject him immediately to any more.

For a week or two after replacing the substrate he seemed absolutely fine and I assumed my worries were over. However, the last week he's become very lethargic. He's been sitting at the bottom of the tank a lot and looks to be breathing (only very slightly) more rapidly. I'm very diligent with tank maintenance (gravel cleaning/partial water changes once a week) and do regular water tests, the results of which have never given me any cause for concern (ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 40). He's still eating - in fact he seems to spring to life the minute I put food in the tank (he has a varied diet including fresh fruit & veg (blanched and skinned), good quality flakes, bloodworm etc). However, yesterday I noticed that he looks to be developing a very slight bend at the tip of his tail. My immediate fear was TB, although I'm really not sure that he could have it. I understand it's very rare in aquariums anyway and he lives in isolation, so there's no carrier. Additionally I clean the tank with bare hands all the time and feel sure that I'd also have it if he did.

So I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to what the problem could be? He doesn't have any other signs of physical illness/disease - his fins, gills and scales all look fine. He does have cysts on both his pectoral fins but he's had them for years and I'm confident that they don't cause him any discomfort/distress and that they are not related to his current condition. Can fish develop deformities such as a bent tail in old age? Are there any other illnesses that could cause the symptoms he's displaying? Could the switch to sand have been problematic? Or is it possible that it's delayed stress from the gravel removal and subsequent substrate change and the fact he's fairly old? Absent the presence of any spurious water readings I'm at an absolute loss as to what could be wrong. I've been doing partial water changes daily the last few days, just as a precaution and because I don't really know what else to do - I'm reluctant to medicate because I can't pinpoint a specific condition. Any help or advice would be gratefully received.

Many thanks in advance.


Re: Help! Can anyone advise what might be wrong with my goldfish?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 22:16
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17/10/2014 12:20
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I empathise with so much of your post, having also converted from gravel to sand following my goldfish getting gravel stuck in his throat on several occasions, and having a similar-aged goldfish starting to become lethargic and developing non-specific health problems (several years ago).

You're doing absolutely what I would recommend under the circumstances ie monitoring water quality, doing daily partial water changes, varied diet.

A few additional thoughts:
* are you able to get the nitrate down to 20 (while maintaining ammonia and nitrite at 0) or no more than 20 above whatever your tap water nitrate level is? Larger water changes may enable this.
* a dose of aquarium salt might help and can sometimes turn around a situation, although possibly only temporarily - potentially worth a try, though.
* check his poo; when I converted the substrate to sand, my goldfish started ingesting this which led to lethargy, a lot of time sitting on the bottom of the tank, a pouch on his side where the sand seemed to be 'stored' plus thick, sand-filled poo - this might also account for the bent tail if there is generally extra weight internally and potentially pressing on his internal organs/spine - if he is ingesting the sand while foraging, then it may be worth considering a bare-bottom, substrate-free tank;
* although quite rightly not of concern for the reasons you mention, might the cysts be breeding tubercles?
* IME, when goldfish reach this age, they do seem to become more susceptible to sudden changes in the tank or a delayed water change, so it's possible that the substrate change may account for what he's experiencing, and that he'll get used to the new environment with time; also, although the water quality appears to be good, it only measures some of what's in a tank and there are other aspects (eg fish hormones) which can't be measured, so it's possible that more is going on but which we won't know about.

Hope this helps, even if just a little. In a nutshell, I'd keep up the measures you're doing, perhaps with the addition of a dose of aquarium salt for now. If the situation changes/deteriorates, then it might be worth trying a broad-spectrum treatment to see if that makes a difference.


Re: Help! Can anyone advise what might be wrong with my goldfish?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 23:21
Joined:
26/3/2010 11:12
From: West Yorkshire
Group:
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Posts: 117
Many thanks for your response. On testing the water last night (after posting) I saw a fairly hefty nitrate spike (around 60ppm). I did a 30% change and I've done another 30% change today, tested a couple of hours later and it's reduced it down to just below 40. Ammonia and nitrite are still 0. I also tested the tap water to see if there were undue amounts of nitrate there but the reading was around 10ppm.

I'm out of the house quite a lot through the day so it's hard to monitor the poo situation, although when I feed him peas it seems to have the desired effect and I haven't been concerned by its appearance. I did consider that he might be ingesting sand, although I assumed if he was he might present different physically (like the pouch you mentioned), but he doesn't.

I'm confident the cysts are just that. They're almost cauliflower like in appearance. He's had them for years & they don't affect his ability to swim or seem to cause him any distress. He does get breeding tubercles and, as you mention it, I've noticed tonight that he appears to have white spots on his gills and around the cysts. So now I'm panicking about white spot! Is it possible they could just be tubercles? I can't see any white spots anywhere else on his other fins/tail/body. And given the water quality and that he lives in isolation, is it at all possible he could have developed it? In terms of his tail that doesn't appear to have worsened from what I can see, but he's still extremely lethargic.

When you say a broad spectrum treatment, what would you recommend? I've considered it may be bacterial and thought about trying melafix but am not not sure it's the way to go with the recent nitrate spike and appearance of the spots. I'm reluctant to use salt as, if I do need to use more heavy duty meds, it'll delay the process by having to remove it. Thanks again so much for your help btw. I really thought we'd been through the worst of it with the gravel incident & I'm devastated to see him like this, even more so to think I may have caused it somehow :(


Re: Help! Can anyone advise what might be wrong with my goldfish?
Posted on: 12/9/2017 8:08
Joined:
17/10/2014 12:20
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Have the white spots progressed or regressed? That will give you a better idea as to whether it's white spot or not. It is still possible that whitespot could develop even when a fish is in isolation and the water quality is good, as there are other things in an aquarium which our home-based water testing kits do not test for.

Some treatments can be administered in combination and which might address the issues eg eSHa 2000 and eSHa Exit. If the white spots haven't progressed to anything, then either eSHa 2000 or Waterlife Myxazin are good broad-spectrum treatments.






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