My approx 22 year old common goldfish has suddenly changed his behaviour. I think it might be the end. But how do you know for sure?
He is in a fully cycled 170lt 4ft tank that he’s been in for a number of years. Only him in the tank for many years. I have an external fluval 205 filter and internal fluval aswell. Nothing changed recently. Usual water changes. Water API test shows all levels to be fine.
After a decade of me not realising I was torturing him in a small tank, he’s been in a much larger tank for ages. He’s never shown any signs of problems other than his slightly stunted growth. About two years ago he started (very) occasionally doing sporadic flips or turns that he never used to. But other than that, zero issues I could see.
Apart from.... a few weeks back he had black spots suddenly appear on his tail. Possible ammonia spike? Tested and water changed but the levels were fine! I topped up with seachem prime to help. And the black has since disappeared.
The past 24 hours he hasn’t eaten for the first time in his life. And he is now head down and tail up slightly not moving, not wonky at all, just not moving. He normally spends all day every day picking up and dropping stones.
If he is dying now this could take ages and ages of suffering. He’s been so strong for so many years and not exhibiting any signs of distress or problems. Dispute his bad start in life. If I can help him I would. What should I do? Don’t want a king drawn out death but don’t want to give up if I can help him 😢
I say him. And his name is goldy. But might be a girl. I never could tell.
I remember you and your goldfish; glad he's had a good few years in his bigger tank.
Whether this is the end or not for Goldy is difficult to tell. There was a time when mine seemed to be at death's door and euthanasia was advocated, only for him to have a turnaround following some medication and going on to live for another 4+ years; he had a number of problems in his final months, some like you describe but, even on what transpired to be the final day when he went downhill suddenly, I wasn't entirely sure if it was the end or not, or if the situation might change. It's very possible that this is the end in your fish's case, as what you've described and the sort of non-specific, non-swimming/foraging floating behaviour is often would be consistent with that. However...
If he's still alive this morning, I'd recommend doing a small water change - even just 10% - to increase the oxygenation a little, and see how he gets on with that. Goldfish in their later years do struggle when temperatures are a bit warmer; it might be that a 10% water change with cold water daily is all he needs to perk him up a little. A small dose of aquarium salt might help too - but wait a day or two to see if the water changes alone make any difference.
If the above suggestions don't seem to be helping and he's still alive but much the same after several days or a week or so, you'll probably know by then what the likely outcome is. At that point, if there is no improvement, or indeed if there's a deterioration beforehand that no medication seems likely to be able to treat, you may prefer to let nature take its course or provide a helping hand in the form of an overdose of https://www.vetark.co.uk/pages/Aqua-Sed.aspx or else clove oil.
I am ready to do it. But struggling without knowing for sure. He doesn’t seem to be changing. Has been doing the same thing, just sunk down and mostly un moving apart from breathing, eyes moving and swishing of his tail to stay upright.
I did know in the end. Breathing got more rapid. It was then confirmed by his very slow painful looking movement when I tried to net him.
Don’t like how it worked so slowly even though I know it’s the kindest way. After a minute he went upside down and was breathing like that upside down for about half an hour. Before finally going on his side as he died.