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Author Topic: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!  (Read 820 times)
shakeelium
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babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« on: July 16, 2010, 09:32:01 PM »

Hi there,

I'm babysitting my sister's goldfish while she is out of town on a 3-week trip.  The goldfish is sick, and I'd appreciate your any advice on how to help it get better.  A few details:

- The fish is about 4 years old, and has been healthy to date.  he's has always been quite fat and roly-poly - almost spherical.

- A few weeks ago my sister moved him into a bigger tank.  Almost right after he developed large black spots over his body.  She had that checked out, and the fish was diagnosed with ammonia burns.  She has since been changing the water regularly, but the burns haven't gone away.

- Before going on the trip she moved the fish to a ~2 gallon fish bowl for temporary housing at my house while she was away.  Yesterday was the first day we had him, and the first day I got a look at the spots., etc.  I took a picture of his ammonia burned area, see below.

- Since having the little guy, I've noticed that his belly is swollen in the same spot as the black spot.  The swollen area makes him swim lop-sided.  I've noticed that he swims real funny and seems to be having trouble "balancing" in the water.

- My fiance and I plan on doing a ~25% water change every 2-3 days.  I've taken a few water quality readings:  pH = 7.0, ammonia = 1.2-2.4 mg/L (it's between colors on the chart), unionized ammonia (read from a pH/ammonia chart) = 0.002 ppm, nitrite = 1.2 mg/L, nitrate = <5 mg/L.

- From the above, it looks like nitrite is very high, and pH is a bit too low.  I'm going to buy some of the "cycle" chemical that was recommended elsewhere in the forum.

I'm going to take the little guy to the neighborhood aquarium store for a diagnosis, but would like the opinion of all you goldfish experts out there.  Is the fish suffering only from the ammonia burns, or is there something else I need to look out for?  Anything other than the "cycle" and frequent partial water changes I need to do?  I would like to have this guy all healed when my sister comes to get him, and definitely don't want him to get worse.  She's quite fond of the little guy.

All help would be definitely appreciated, by both human and fish-folk!

thanks,
Shakeel


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Hanna
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2010, 04:17:44 AM »

Hi Shakeel,
Welcome to the forum.

Hope fishie will survive...
Sounds to me as if the new tank wasn't cycled, therefore the ammonia burns. How much water has your sister changed during this period and how often? Maybe it was too much? Did she use a water conditioner?

The 2 gallon bowl is much too small, a single goldfish needs at least 10 gallons.

But let's see how we can get you through this to have a recovered fish:
1. Does the bowl have a good filter and a good airstone? If not, you should get one.
2. Is there a live plant in the bowl? They provide extra oxygen and help the nitrogen cycle.
3. The water chemistry is not right at all, it shows that the bowl is not cycled either: Ammonia should be 0.00ppm, so the Nitrites.
4. pH is not too bad, if fishie is used to this pH I wouldn't do anything about this.
5. Yes get the cycle aid and use it according to instructions.
6. The fish is VERY stressed out. This means he/she can easy get some bacterial or fungal infection because the immune system got weak due to stress. In this case natural remedies like Pimafix and Melafix would help
7. His swimming behaviour shows that he's suffering swim-bladder-problems (due to stress, caused by poor water quality and/or infection)

It is a very good idea to go to your local pet shop too, browse around for proper water conditioner, Pimafix and Melafix. Keep testing every day and make a partial waterchange about 15-20%. Use conditioner which you add to the water before you put it into the bowl.

Keep in touch with your sister, please let her know what's going on. Maybe you can ask her how long she had the tank set up before she moved him? And how she prepared the water?

I'll keep fingers crossed for you and the little guy.  Keep us updatet. Hope all goes well... Sad Cry
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Nossie
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 05:07:56 AM »

Why in the world did she move the fish to your bowl if she figured out that he's got ammonia burns already?!
I don't want you to think that I'm angry at either of you, but this just doesn't make sense. She must have moved him to a bigger tank for a reason in the first place.

If the fish is bloated a bacterial/parasitic infection is surely involved. You need to treat this fish for internal infections asap. Buy some medicated food that you'll feed him with three times a day for at least the remainder of the time you have him under your care. Follow Hanna's advice as well, about the filter and airstone etc. I'd say it would be even better if there's a way for you to move him back into his bigger home.

Good luck!
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shakeelium
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2010, 12:31:24 PM »

Thanks, all. 

The fish was moved to the small bowl purely for this 3-week period while she's away - she doesn't have a car so moving the entire tank wasn't possible.  The fish lived his life in a ~5 gallon tank for his first ~4 years of life, and just moved to the big tank (which I think is 10 gallons) recently, which apparently wasn't cycled properly.  I agree the timing wasn't good - moving the fish to a different tank right before going away on a trip.  I'm playing with the fish-hand I've been dealt.

I'll do a water change today, and get the medicated food, pimafix, melafix, and the cycle conditioner.  The bowl doesn't have a pump or filter.  I can either buy all that at the store or get a car to bring the fish's big tank over to my place.  We'll have to add a bunch of new water and cycle the big tank and make sure the water chemistry is right and add those conditioners to the water in the big tank.  It takes a few days to fully condition the water for the fish, right?  It sounds like that's a better option than keeping him in the small bowl, even with a filter and air stone.  What do you think?

thanks again for your help, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Shakeel

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Nossie
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2010, 12:51:25 PM »

I can't see why she had to move him at all. Wouldn't it have been better to keep him in the big tank so you could just go there from time to time and feed him?

And no, you shouldn't even bother bringing HER tank to your home just for a few weeks, the tank will just have to cycle longer, and the fish will get stressed and most likely die anyway. Bring him home to her tank maybe? You could try going to her place and checking on the tank's cycling process and see to it that the fish will get back to his home as soon as it's possible.

And learn, for next time that a goldfish should never be kept in a bowl, not even for three weeks. And especially as long as there's a better option! But, I'm glad that you care, bet most people wouldn't even ask on this forum what might be wrong with the fish Smiley
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Hanna
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2010, 05:32:58 PM »

I completely agree with Nossie. Bring him back to his home. Check the waterquality, add cycle aid into the tank, also conditioner as I've got the feeling it wasn't done ( ? ) Give him an airstone too, it oxygenates the water and provides some fun for the fish. Live plants will give him sth to nibble and to do while he's alone. Only feed little as much as he's eating in 1-2 minutes.
Goldfish don't starve, you can leave him a few days without food as long as he has some live plants in there.

Yes, please let us know how he's going. ALL THE BEST Smiley
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shakeelium
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2010, 07:13:16 PM »

Hi folks,

An update.  First of all, I don't think bringing him back to his tank is feasible.  If we do, he'll have to live unattended except for maybe a once-a-week visit.  I live too far away to visit more often.  Howabout this option - my fiance has a planted tropical freshwater tank with good, old, well-balanced water.  We  bought a cheap 7 gallon tank and power filter, and used the good water from the planted tank, plus a bit of water from the fish bowl, plus some conditioned tap water water, and put the fish in there.  We added the microbe cycle chemical ("tank starter") to the new tank.  We plan on adding medication too.  Is this a decent approach?  We risk stressing the fish, but he's apparently already stressing in the bowl, and bringing him back to his home tank, for better or worse, isn't really an option.  We considered bringing his tank here, but that seems like more trouble than it's worth.  We'd have to change most of that water to bring it over, and that would risk the same stress, right?  That tank is what also gave him his original ammonia burns, so I'm wary of that water.

The local aquarium store thought a "hospital tank" with filtration was the best bet, and they offered to sell us a used tank for a deal.  They agreed that the fish bowl was a death chamber.  We're on our way to the store with the fish for them to take a look and give us their opinion on what meds (pimafix, etc.) to go with.

let me know what you think.  On a related note, since our water changes in the fish bowl, the little dude seems to be doing a bit better - his swimming seems more balanced and he seems to be swimming around doing his thing, not struggling or sitting there.  Don't think we're out of the woods though.

thanks,
Shakeel     
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Hanna
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2010, 07:19:47 PM »

Sounds to me to be the best option in your situation to get the hospital tank and use good water.
Also brilliant to take fishie for a consultation.

I keep my fingers so much crossed for you and the little guy. 
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Nossie
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2010, 05:00:39 AM »

Remember in the future, that a one-week visit with feeding is more than enough for the goldfish to stay healthy. Not to mention that the water in that tank is getting better and better as the cycle is proceeding.
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Mindemae
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Re: babysitting a sick goldfish - need help!
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 01:56:45 PM »

Any ammonia or nitrites detected in the water is bad...and stressful.  It can poison the fish quite easily and very quickly.
Both ammonia and nitrites should read ZERO for the fish to live a healthy, stress free life.
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