View Full Version : Please Help, Fish In Serious Distress
06-05-2011, 08:14 PM
Hello, I have two goldfish in a 10 gallon tank that is (hopefully) cycling. I've been doing regular daily 10-15% water changes and feeding twice a day, a little bit each time. One comet goldfish is around 1.5" and the smaller common goldfish is 1". I recently acquired an air pump/stone and stupidly stirred up the gravel while getting it to the bottom of the tank; in the process, a good deal of debris and fish poop got scattered everywhere in the tank. I immediately did a 15% water change to help alleviate the debris. However, a few hours later the larger goldfish began displaying some respiratory distress (hard breathing, really opening its mouth wide) and also looked like it was swimming about aimlessly; fins were also clamped for the most part. It hasn't lost its appetite but it definitely is breathing a lot harder and swimming around aimlessly a lot more. I have since done another 15% water change and just an hour ago I attempted (first time) to vacuum the gravel using a siphon vacuum and got 25% of the water, so I’d say that the water has been changed fairly well and looks pretty clear now. I don't have any test-kits, but from online research, have been keeping up with water changes and the goldfish prior to this were doing just fine. As a side note, the smaller goldfish has small red markings underneath its chin (kind of like a goatee) which weren't there before (possibly septicemia?)...I have since added 2 teaspoons of sea salt to the tank. So what is wrong with my larger goldfish? Do you think it's related to the whole incident of stirring up the debris? What should I do? Any advice would be much appreciated and thanks guys in advance! :)
06-05-2011, 08:22 PM
One of my favourite quotes I saw here on AC - when in doubt, do a water change.
I know you did one, but 15/25% isn't very much. If you suspect water is a problem, do a 50% change - or more. I do 75% changes on one of my tanks regularly.
Goldfish are pretty tough, so if one is showing distress, I would do a large water change every day (50-75%). I personally would dispense with the salt as well, but there are differing opinions on salt use.
I wouldn't have thought the debris would be the problem, tho, if you are cycling your tank you are getting a build up of ammonia or nitrites and stirring up the debris could have spiked them.
I think more and larger water changes are the best you can do at this point.
06-05-2011, 08:37 PM
Two goldfish are going to be too crowded in that tank. They poop a lot. You either need to get a larger tank for the fish, or get smaller fish like Danio's.
06-05-2011, 08:37 PM
That does make sense. I am just concerned about the cycling process. Would daily changes of such large volumes compromise the cycling process? Is there any way I can speed up cycling and get those nitrifying bacteria established (without negative consequences to the fish)? Thanks for your help/advice in this stressful time (for me and the fish...)!
06-05-2011, 09:24 PM
Large water changes might slow down your cycle, but if your fish die of ammonia poisoning on you, you're no better off. This is why fishless cycling is better. You don't have to do water changes and your cycle trips along stress free, for both you and the fish.
The bacteria reside on all the surfaces of your tank, some in the water, but they colonize and multiply on the bio-media in your filter.
I assume that you are just using the goldfish to cycle your tank. Lizzard is correct in saying that the goldfish will outgrow your tank. I figured you were using them to cycle and would rehome them once you began stocking your tank.
06-06-2011, 03:48 AM
I'm actually going to be keeping the goldfish.
But regarding the original problem, I moved the larger comet goldfish to a separate container, with pristine water (to rule out any water toxin like ammonia), but it's still gasping and swimming around agitatedly. If it's not a water toxin then what can it be???
06-06-2011, 04:11 AM
Commons or Comets both get to one foot. These are pond fish and will never work in a 10 gallon tank. The tank is even too small for one fancy as most of them get 6".
But for now, you are cycling the tank. If the ammonia levels have risen, and I know they have, doing a 10-15% water change did nothing to alleviate their stress. You will need to change half the water every day. Do you have a test kit so you can check the toxic levels?
But increase those water changes and use the dechlorinator to remove the chlorine from your tap water. But if your ammonia level is at 2 and you remove 10% of your water, your ammonia level is still much too high.
But honestly you need to return those fish and get fish that are correct for your tank size. You do have dechlorinator, right?
06-06-2011, 04:32 AM
Within the past 24 hours I have done two separate 15% changes and then a 25% change (from my attempt at gravel vacuuming). I do not have any test kits.
I plan on a 50% change tomorrow (with dechlorinator). I am just wondering right now that if water quality were the problem, that the comet showed absolutely no sign of improvement, despiting spending a night in completely new, pristine water (which is why I made the ultimate decision to return it back to the tank)...
06-06-2011, 04:48 AM
Sometimes they simply will not recover from toxins if they become too high. Their gills get burned. The same thing if someone held an ammonia soaked rag over your face for days, removed it and gave you fresh air. You would still remain ill from what had already transpired.
06-06-2011, 04:58 AM
Is there any chance of these gills regenerating? The comet's right front fin shows black marks from ammonia burns, and at one point was even split right down the middle. However, with some time the fin completely regenerated and the fish is using it like new.
If there were that much ammonia to cause that much gill damage, then shouldn't the smaller common goldfish have been at least somewhat affected (it's doing absolutely fine with not even a peep of a gasp)?? The comet was also [given its previous circumstances] perfectly fine before yesterday after the air pump incident. So right now I just feel like there was a problem that I recently caused that led to the comet's current state...I'm so very frustrated right now...:(
06-06-2011, 05:21 AM
And also just a question of practice: I add water from 64 oz. (i.e. 1/2 gallon) OceanSpray Cranberry Juice clear plastic jugs since they're good for measuring. As such, I just pour the water into the tank and then add water conditioner according to the volume of water added. Is this a bad practice? Does it make a difference whether the water conditioner is added before or after the water is in the tank?
06-06-2011, 05:29 AM
Definitely. Add the dechlorinator to the water jug and give it a shake. One can never guess why one fish will become more ill than the next. Some are just more resilient. You can have 10 fish in an uncycled tank and they will die one after the other, seldom all belly up at the same time. Some just have a bit more fight in them.
But really, what will you do with them if they do survive? They simply can not remain in that tank and why those fish are purchased for outdoor ponds. You are going thru a lot of worry and frustration for fish you are not able to keep.
06-06-2011, 05:38 AM
***UPDATE actually, it looks like the smaller common goldfish isn't exactly "fine/dandy" like i previously thought. the red markings have spread to cover most of the right side of its lower jaw (in addition to the goatee pattern from earlier) and there are red markings on its tail. this was easy to see because the common goldfish is mostly white, whereas the comet is orange. close inspection of the comet, though, reveals no such red markings
In the way of background information, the comet was from an original set of 5 goldfish won from a carnival game. I had to house them in a goldfish bowl (bad, I know) until I could get them back home from college. I remember they were gasping at the surface and showing a lot of respiratory distress, so I did water changes often. One of them perished before I got home, and then 3 more died. The comet only managed to live because I threw every treatment I researched online at it. I added salt to the water; I gave it intense salt baths; then I finally gave it some human amoxicillin (which is what Fish Mox is made from) over the course of 5 days and it made a complete recovery. So this comet has already had one near-death experience and is very sentimentally dear to me. I just really badly want it to get better right now...:'(
06-06-2011, 12:30 PM
At the risk of sounding like a broken record - your water changes aren't big enough. If ammonia is high enough, even after you do a water change there is still a dangerous amount of ammonia in the water. You basically did a 100% water change when you moved the one fish to "pristine" water. I recommend you do LARGE water changes daily. Personally, to start off, I would change 75% of the water, refill, and do another 75% right after. This is as close to a 100% water change as you can get without drying out your tank. Then you know you are starting from scratch ammonia wise, and can start doing the one major water change daily.
Make sure you aren't cleaning your filter media in chlorinated water. If you don't have a filter (I can't remember if you said so or not in your original post) get one. Otherwise, you will have to do these large water changes basically forever. As the fish get bigger they will only poop more. Dumping in your tap water without dechlorinating it is also likely slowing down your cycle process.
The thing is, without an ammonia/nitrite test kit, you will not know when your tank water is safe. You will have to continue doing these large water changes for a few months without a test kit to confirm your tank is ammonia free.
Goldfish are tough, but there will come a point when you won't be able to keep up with the ammonia in that size of tank. Plan now for getting them a new larger tank down the road. Once they hit the 3" mark, you'll need to move them out of there or risk stunting their growth.
06-06-2011, 01:55 PM
I just really badly want it to get better right now...:'(
I understand the total attachment to an animal or fish. But it's because we love them that we do what we can to make them happy? Loving them is all about them, not us and along with love also means sacrifice of our own wants. You have to ask yourself if your fish would be happier in a nice big pond, having a family and swimming care-free or trying to live in this small tank.
But, I have harped on that long enough and will not mention it again. Let your conscious guide you to make the right decision for the FISH.
06-08-2011, 04:04 PM
So I've been making 50% water changes and both goldfish seemed to be doing better. However, since last night, the larger comet goldfish has been sitting on the bottom. It still has an appetite but most of the time it just sits on the bottom breathing a good amount.
I obtained a test kit and tested around a half hour ago:
pH: anything from 6.8-7.2 (the color chart wasn't really decisive at all)
Ammonia: around 0.5 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
I'll be performing another water change soon to reduce the ammonia...What do you guys think of the test results and above-mentioned symptoms? What should I do?
06-08-2011, 05:00 PM
I have just changed some water and re-tested the pH and ammonia, which came out to 6.8-7.0 and 0.25-0.50 ppm, respectively. However, both goldfish are now sitting on the bottom. It seems that things are deteriorating even though I'm improving the water quality...What should I do?
06-08-2011, 05:05 PM
One question do you vacuum the gravel when you do water changes at all? Goldfish are messy eaters and excessive poopers if your not doing vacuuming in a tank that small I could see the buildup of waste causing a big problem
06-08-2011, 05:06 PM
Yes, I have been vacuuming the gravel.
06-08-2011, 06:00 PM
What dehlorinator are you using?
I would recommend Seachem Prime which will dechlorinate and detox your ammonia into a safer form. I would also get Seachem Stability to help get the BB going.
You must go out and get a test kit. Seachem also has a test kit that can differentiate toxic and nontoxic ammonia.
You must use some products and get a test kit.
06-08-2011, 06:28 PM
I use Nutrafin Aquaplus.
I just did a ~60% water change and the ammonia is reading somewhere between 0-0.25 ppm. However, both fish are still sitting on the bottom.
06-09-2011, 01:51 AM
Keep on with the water changes. My guess is that the long exposure to ammonia is catching up with them. Do not worry about doing too big or too many water changes - when you have ammonia in the tank there's not much you can do that's worse than them living in their own urine and wastes.
Just keep chlorine out of the tank when you do your water changes...
If you keep up the water changes, you should start to see an improvement in a few days, unless they were too badly burnt to recover.
Keep on keeping on!
06-09-2011, 02:26 AM
I couldn't just sit there and watch, so I decided to go pretty drastic. I removed all of the gravel (which I think a couple of people have suggested) and replaced around 80% of the water and filled it up just high enough so that there would be a waterfall effect from the filter. I dialed down the air stone a lot and there's only 1 tiny column of small bubbles being emitted from it now. Both fish swam around a little after being re-introduced to the tank (probably to explore) but are both sitting in a corner again (the smaller common goldfish swims around from time to time but the larger comet is just sitting).
06-09-2011, 11:30 PM
What temperature are you keeping the tank at?
06-10-2011, 12:04 AM
The tank is in an air conditioned room, water temp is 68 degrees F.
I got Prime by Seachem at noon and changed 20% of the water and then treated the tank with the Prime.
The smaller common goldfish is now acting normal again, fins unclamped and swimming around.
However, I've noticed that the right gill cover of the larger comet goldfish looks slightly inflamed, with a horizontal red line across it (almost like a vein or a cut or something), and at the bottom of the same gill cover there is a darkish red dot. The comet is still sitting in a corner of the tank.
What does this mean? What's wrong with the comet?
I just tested ammonia and nitrite:
Ammonia: <0.25 ppm (with the Prime, so it's harmless to the fish)
Nitrite: 0 ppm
06-10-2011, 12:07 AM
(changed 20% of the water and then treated the tank with the Prime)
Water is supposed to be treated with Prime before it's put in the tank not after.
Red streaks sound like ammonia burns.
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