Goldfish Mystery Death!! How to care for surviving Comet...
About 3 weeks ago, I ended up with a county fair fish - unplanned, unexpected, unprepared for. She grew on me quickly, full of personality and very active.
I eventually set her up with a 10 gallon tank (the largest I can afford right now), water levels all normal, a filter with plentiful surface agitation, and a friend - about an inch smaller than her, equally active (couldn't tell gender due to tiny size). I am aware that two Comets should ideally have up to 30 gallons or more, and I have every intention of upgrading in time... again, unplanned fish, high-maintenance species, and monetary restrictions. I wanted her to have a friend though, as she's so interactive, and still tiny. Immediately they were buddies, filter surfing, following each other everywhere - no chasing, no aggression. She did eat first, but he'd wait his turn and eat plenty afterward (I watched to make sure everytime).
I got him on a Tuesday, introduced him to the tank by letting his bag float and the temperatures to equalize, and letting him find his way out.
On a Friday afternoon, as I'm about to go out of town, I see his left pectoral fin clamped. It hadn't been in the morning, so I did some general research and became pretty concerned. He showed no signs of lethargy and ate as he was fed without seeming disinterested or anything.
My mom came over to monitor his behavior, bought the ammonia test (as there've been no white burns or spots we didn't think this was a possibility - the fair fish had had black ammonia burns (signs of healing?) that healed quickly when she was transferred to her new filtered tank, and this little guy had none of that).
She fed him this morning, watched him eat, said he was very active, and had no white spots or any other signs of poor health like bloody veins, raised scales, etc. (she's very experienced with fish, which I am not). I returned in the evening and found him dead and floating belly up, covered in a white, cotton-like film that fell off of him as I scooped him out. I googled images of Columnaris, and it looked like that, except he had none of that while he was alive. I had thought I saw a little beard on him when his fin was clamped, but since his chin was white I couldn't tell.
My girl, the original fair fish, was a little spooked but she's back to normal now with me here - absolutely no signs of anything on her or with her behavior. No white film or fuzz, no bloody vains, beautiful healthy fins - etc. I'm about to do a 50% water change and considered quarantining her to an unfiltered tank, but I've read that maybe I should just treat the water for columnaris and keep her there to minimize stress... But I can't say if it was even columnaris!!!
Any thoughts? Was it just an unhealthy fish? I don't want her to deteriorate! I don't want her to catch something from the little one who didn't make it.
I'm pretty heartbroken. He was so precious and I was attached to him. I feel responsible. I want to be preventative with her health now especially.
Sorry this is so long - I'm trying to be thorough because I don't know what to do?? Please help me preserve the Fair Girl! Thank you all!
EDIT: The Fair fish (girl - still alive) was kept in a remarkably overcrowded tank, though filtered, clear water, room temperature. The Petco male fish (R.I.P) was housed in an MASSIVELY overcrowded tank, which did not look very clean, had a dead fish in it, and was kept very very cold to minimize their activity. I'm thinking now it's my own fault for getting one from such a bad source, but I figured it was an active, excited fish, and could thrive in a good environment?
Last edited by sz6626a; 10-15-2012 at 05:05 AM.
Sorry to say it but the tank is not big enough for one much less two. And comets also are not suitable for 30 gallons. These are the fish people get for stocking their ponds. Check their sizes in the link in my signature.
Thanks for getting back to me quickly. The most obvious problem here is that I didn't intend to have a fish, let alone a fish not suited for indoor, 2 or 5 gallon tanks. I had no budget for this, and 10 gallons was already a financial stretch to set up the best scenario. Like I said, I can't afford a larger tank right now, nor would I have room for it. I live in a city and can't have a pond. I didn't offer her up when I initially inherited her, for fear she'd end up in a bowl or just flushed.
In the perplexity of ending up with a fish no one wanted, I decided to do right by her and hunker down for the 15+ years of living she deserved. I've researched comets, their sizes, lifespans, social behavior, in aquaria, etc. I've set up her tank, though eventually too small, to be quipped with everything a goldfish needs. I've monitored her closely.
She's still quite small, at 2 inches of fish not including tail. If 1 inch of fish requires two gallons of water, they should have been fine for NOW, especially given the care I've put into every other aspect of the aquarium: water conditioning, proper oxygenation, etc.
Please don't mistake the current set up for ignorance or negligence. It's the reality of the situation. Short of drive her to a pond in the countryside and dump her, what else can I do?
Is she in any immediate harm from the white cotton-like film that was on the dead fish? Does this sound like a fungus or a parasite for which I should treat the water?
I would not suggest treating the tank unless your fish starts to show symptoms of some type of sickness
Are there any LFS that would take the fish for you ?
If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
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I understand that you tried to provide the best you could, unfortunately this will not be enough. I suggest you find someone with a pond you can give the fish to. You can even create a craigslist ad for them.
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"There is no right way to do the wrong thing." - KingFisher "Only bad things happen fast in this hobby" - Cliff
+1 - rehoming this fish is the best you can do - keeping it in a 10gal just for the sake of saying "I tried to help it" is not healthy for it even short term.
I know it's hard to give up a fish that you've grown attached to but there have been other posters who have been in your situation who found a pond for their fish.
sz.......I understand your willingness to help this fish. However, this is not really helping this fish if he is not provided with proper housing and he grows up stunted. He would love to have a pond where he can have friends, be in a family unit, have off-spring and spend his life getting fat off worms, bugs and weeds.
A 30 gallon is adaquate for perhaps the smallest of the fan-tails. Not koi, commons, comets or Moors.
Thank you for your input. I will look into all of the options suggested, in the best interest of the goldfish herself. Unfortunately, the local petstore is that vile Petco from which I purchased her late companion. As they had about 100 comets in a 10 gallon tank, dead fish among them, I refuse to take her there. Finding her a better home is a high priority - yes, a pond, ideally, where she'll have a proper social group.
But it's really not what I'm asking for help with at this particular point in time. I can find her a home in the next couple of weeks, but what can I do for her right now to ensure she couldn't have contracted anything from the little one that died? I fear he came from such a poor environment he already had compromised health.
The only answer I'm getting to my initial question is don't bother quarantining, running tests, or medicating for Velvet, Ich, or Columnaris, unless some signs of illness arise?
Thus far she appears in perfect health, and eats, but seems generally spooked, staying behind the fake plants and not playing like usual.
For the time being, as long as your fish shows no signs of illness, do NOT medicate the tank.
Yes, I agree with the others, this fish doesn't belong in a ten gallon (or even a thirty). If it helps in understanding, I went through the same thing with "Fishers" my daughter's goldfish. He was upgraded several times, and we eventually built a POND for him..... (and his new friends). I understand the wanting to do right by it, trust me, I really do. But the reality is, you also wouldn't "help a puppy" by keeping it in a closet for lack of space or funds would you? 'course not.
"Fishers", a once 1 inch feeder fish (comet) is now a whopping 7 inch bad boy. He's still growing.
Okay okay, lecture over. So while you are, hopefully, thinking of new appropriate homes for your little orange bundle, here's what to do in the meantime.
Treat the ten gallon like it was a goldfish bowl. Because frankly, to the goldfish, that's what it is. Make sure the tank is cycled, but do a water change every other day, of at least 25 percent of the water. Make sure to use Prime or another dechlorinator in the replaced water every single time. Feed only what the fish can eat in a few minutes, don't overfeed letting any gunk up the bottom of the tank.
Put a second filter on the tank, even if its a sponge filter. Goldfish create a LOT of waste, you'd be amazed.
Don't put any medications in the water if you see no signs of illness. 10 gallons is a tiny space, so adding anything you don't need to the water will be bad.
2 10 gallon tanks, 1 20 gallon tank, 1 Fluval Edge, 1 29 gallon tank, and one backyard pond.