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Can I do anything for my Goldfish?

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#1 Three Of Hearts

Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:19 PM

Yesterday afternoon I bought a rather large, rather expensive oranda goldfish for my pond.  This morning DH and I couldn't see it anywhere, but figured it was hiding somewhere.  When it didn't come to the surface when I fed them all this arvo I got a torch and tried to see in the plants, under logs etc for him but the sunshine on the pond made it impossible.

Now that it is dark enough I've gone back out with the torch and found the poor fella stuck inside some reeds.  I have no idea how he even managed to squeeze in there.  DH pulled him out (DH thought he was dead) but he is still alive.  He is currently just floating around on his side.

Is there anything at all I can do for it, or do I just have to wait and see?  I'm guessing he's been stuck for at least 12 hours going by the fact that it is after 9pm and it was about 9am when we first couldn't find him this morning.

#2 tenar

Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:34 PM

The first thing to consider would be the possibility that he got stuck in the reeds because he was sick, not the other way around.  If so, it could be either a problem with your water chemistry, a problem with the way you acclimatised him to your pond, or a problem with the fish before you bought him.  

So, let's rule out some possibilities:

1.  How large is the pond, what temperature is it, how many fish are there in there already?  For pond fish you need something like 100l per adult goldfish, assuming the filtration is reasonable.  

2.  What are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, and the PH (you can measure all of these with a "freshwater master" test kit from API or the nutrafin one, if you have test kits for the KH and GH all the better.  You should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and nitrate levels of less than 20ppm.    

3  Goldfish prefer hard water to very soft water, but that wouldn't make him sick so fast, unless maybe he'd been in hard water in the shop and yours is very soft.  

4.  Can you describe how you acclimatised him to your pond?  At the very least you should have floated his bag in the pond to match the temperatures, while adding a bit of water at a time from the pond to the bag, for maybe half an hour, before letting him in.  If you just dumped him in and the water chemistry or temperature was very different, he could be sick from the shock of the changed temperatures.    I believe that older fish need more careful acclimatisation than younger ones, so if he was big you needed to take more care with this.  

5.  Did you quarantine him before introducing him to the pond?  Presumably not, but if you did then you'd have a good idea as to whether he was sick before coming to you.  Did you have a good look at the tank he came from in the shop for obviously sick fish (dead ones, fish with fungus on them, fish with frayed and rotting fins, fish with swim bladder problems causing them to be unbalanced in the water?)

If you can rule out as many of the above possible problems as you can, that will help work out what to do next.  In any case, the main important things you can do work like this:

1.  Don't medicate unless you know what the problem is.  Even with a "broad spectrum" medication.  Medications for fish are poorly tested and can cause much more harm than good unless you are very sure what the problem is and that the medication in question will help it.  Don't rush to the shop and buy whatever they tell you and dump it in your pond - some medications will really really mess up the filtration system by killing the filter bacteria.  

2.  Do do a lot of large water changes, and make sure there is 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in the water.  The only way you can be sure of this is if you are testing it yourself.  Taking a sample of water to the shop is basically almost useless because it will change over time and anyway most shop staff don't know what they are on about and will tell you it's "fine" when it's harming your fish.  

3.  If you can locate a fish vet in your city you could take your fish to see them.  Best done ASAP if you can (ie first thing tomorrow morning).  There aren't many such specialists around, but your local vet may know where to find one.  

Good luck!

#3 tenar

Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:37 PM

And the other obvious thing I forgot to ask is: how long has your pond been set up for and do you know whether it has cycled?  If it is relatively new then what else is in there other than the fish?    If there are plants or soil or anything that could be leaching ammonia or other organic material into the water, but the filtration hasn't yet had time to become established, then that could easily be the problem.

#4 Three Of Hearts

Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:57 PM

Wow thank you for such an informative response!  I'll try and answer the questions as best I can!

1.  The pond holds just under 5000lt and only has 12 smallish sized comets and fantails in it at the moment

2.  I only have a PH test kit (no-one has mentioned the others).  The PH is fine.  We are on tank water here so there shouldn't be as many nasties in the water as town water

3.  I told the guy at the shop the fish would be going in a pond and all he asked was about the town or tank water

4.  I floated the bag for half an hour or so but I only did the water-adding to the bag bit for the last 5 minutes (the info I get on doing this differs every time I get fish!)

5.  No I didn't quarantine him, but he was is a tank with only 4 other large fish and all looked happy and healthy (for my untrained eye anyway)

I have tried medicating a goldfish before many years ago and I'm sure it just prolonged the poor things death!  I can add more water tomorrow morning as the pond level has dropped a bit in the last couple of days.  Unfortunately there are no specialist vets around here and the closest 'normal' vet is 45 minutes from me.

The pond has been up and running since early-mid September and has an external bio filter.  I can't remember what it is, but I know I got one that does up to 14,000lt ponds because I planned to put fish in my 5,000lt one.  The fantails were put in there the day after it was filled up and they are all still alive and growing rapidly.  The pond has 5 plants in there and 3 logs (they were all soaked for years before going in the pond).

I feel so sad for this fish cry1.gif  I hate sick and dying fish.  I just went and checked him again and he has now sunk to the bottom.  He's still on his side and breathing, but he's not moving at all sad.gif

Thank you again for such an informative and helpful post.  If he is still alive in the morning by some miracle I will call the local vet and ask for advice.

#5 Oriental lily

Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:27 PM

Op fancy goldfish are not  as hardy as our comets and fantails. They have been selectively bred to look the way they do so  they have a smaller gene pool, smaller gene  pool means they are more susceptible to diseases as less adaptable to change.

Orandas also have a weird swimming action, they kinda bobble along. If he was stuck in reeds he might not have been getting oxygen and suffocated.

I don't really think the shop owner shoud have sold the fish knowing it was going in a outside pond. Outside ponds are a bit more challenging due to variation in temp of water, being darker and fuller of vegetation.
They are prissy fish.

Sadly I don't hold much hope for your fish.
Sick fish only arely bounce back if they get to the lying in their side stage.

#6 Guest_~Karla~_*

Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:39 PM

QUOTE (Oriental lily @ 11/12/2012, 09:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Op fancy goldfish are not  as hardy as our comets and fantails. They have been selectively bred to look the way they do so  they have a smaller gene pool, smaller gene  pool means they are more susceptible to diseases as less adaptable to change.

Orandas also have a weird swimming action, they kinda bobble along. If he was stuck in reeds he might not have been getting oxygen and suffocated.

I don't really think the shop owner shoud have sold the fish knowing it was going in a outside pond. Outside ponds are a bit more challenging due to variation in temp of water, being darker and fuller of vegetation.
They are prissy fish.

Sadly I don't hold much hope for your fish.
Sick fish only arely bounce back if they get to the lying in their side stage.

I've had more fish bounce back from lying on their side than not, but only in indoor tanks. In my limited experience though, fancy goldfish have no staying power and no fight. Once they decide something isn't perfect, they just up and die, no matter what you do. They're just not a particularly hardy fish.

The most successful outdoor fancy goldfish owners that I know spend days if not weeks acclimatizing their fish before adding them to the pond. But they are all a bit strange. wink.gif

Maybe take the oranda out and quarantine him? Have you got an isolation/quarantine tank? I'd start with limited food and daily 25% water changes at the exact same temperature (yes that means 2 identical thermometers) plus aquarium salt. See if there's any improvement in the next 3 or 4 days.

#7 Dylan's Mummy

Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:53 PM

In my experience with fish who are on their sides is to put them in a separate container of water that is just deep enough to cover their top fin if they were swimming the correct way. I can't help with water temps, quality, PH etc.

#8 tenar

Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:21 PM

OK, OP, thanks for the detailed reply.

Your pond is definitely large enough for that kind of bioload.  But since it's only been running a couple of months, it may not actually be cycled, especially if the wood or something else (a dead frog, dunno?) is leaching ammonia into the water sufficiently fast.  So we can't rule out the possibility that the problem is non-zero ammonia or nitrite.  

I agree with the PP that things don't look good for this fish.  Sorry.  If it dies, I'd suggest that you wait another 6 months before trying another oranda, so that the pond system can be a bit more mature.  New systems are just a bit wonky always, even when they are properly cycled, and it's a good idea to start off with hardy fish for the first few months just in case.  

I would strongly suggest that you do the following ASAP.

1.  Get yourself a quarantine system ASAP.  This could be as simple as a well-rinsed plastic tub, 100l or so, with a filter that hangs over the side.   Any container that is food-safe should be fine (and in a pinch those cheapies that you buy at the supermarket may be fine, though I haven't tried one of those).   Or get a secondhand aquarium from gumtree or similar.  Read up on how to cycle this system fast by using some of your existing mature filter media and put fishie in there.

The first reason to always quarantine new stock is to protect your existing stock.  Remember that there's a good chance that any new fish has been exposed to a heap of different pathogens at a time when it is severely stressed and not getting fed very much, so the chances of bringing in a bug your existing fish don't have are rather high.  Quarantining new fish for at least 2 weeks before adding them to the pond is well worth it.  The cost of a quarantine system is trivial compared to the cost of medicating the rest of your fish, or buying new fish, or, worst case: having to medicate, then drain the pond and wash it out, then re-cycle it and put in new fish, if you are unlucky to get something really nasty in there.

The second reason to quarantine is to allow the new fish to relax in very simple surroundings, gain weight with good food and plenty of it, and recover from the very stressful experience of being shipped across the world/country, put in the pet shop with a bunch of possibly sick other fish, chased around, netted out, chucked in the car and then arrived at your place, with possibly a totally different water chemistry to what it started out with.  Quarantine gives the fish a chance to do well in your pond once you add it in and it has to deal with your other fish as well.   It also gives fishy a fighting chance at not getting sick from the pathogens that are in your pond that it may not have encountered before.  Like us, fish are normally surrounded by bugs that normally don't make them sick but if they have a lowered immune system due to stress or other illness then they might get sick from something that would normally be fine.  

Have I convinced you yet?

OK, also please buy yourself an API Freshwater Master test kit.  They are around $40 from ebay or aquarium websites and they have several hundred tests in them, making it the most economical way to keep an eye on your water chemistry.  

I don't know about tank water but I wouldn't assume that it is better for fish than town water - it may be just plain wrong for goldfish.  You need to know the PH and given that you have a sick fish you need to know that ammonia and nitrite are 0 and nitrate kept within reasonable limits.  

What is the PH of the water, by the way?  

OK, I'm tired, I know I'm rambling, so I'll stop there.  You are welcome to ask more questions, OP, if I'm confusing you (I have a non-sleeping toddler so am a permanent zombie).

Good luck.

#9 Three Of Hearts

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:00 PM

Thanks everyone.  The poor guy didn't make it  sad.gif  cry1.gif

I'm so sad that such a lovely looking fish died within a day of me buying him, and I'm also now angry at the pet shop for selling him to me!  Basically none of what you've all mentioned was mentioned to me when I bought it.  And to make matters worse I was actually in there looking at a large comet and fantail and got talked into taking the oranda.  Poor, poor thing sad.gif

I think I'll stick to the smaller hardier fish!  The fantails and comets that are in there are already at least double the size of when they were put in there.  Although I am still on the lookout for some Wakin.  But after yesterdays disaster I will not be getting big ones.  Thank god I didn't buy the 18cm ones that were $75 each a few weeks ago!

It makes me angry that you get such bad advice too.  I guess if you went back in there with a dead fish they'll never do anything about it because they'd never be 'responsible' IYKWIM.  I remember once when I bought fish I asked how the shopkeeper suggested I float them, add water etc and his advice was 'nah love you don't do any of that, just tip them in there, they'll be right".  ddoh.gif

Thank you everyone for the wonderful help and advice last night.  I'm just so sad the little (big) guy didn't make it.

#10 erypmaV

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

QUOTE (Allie_D @ 11/12/2012, 09:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
4.  I floated the bag for half an hour or so but I only did the water-adding to the bag bit for the last 5 minutes (the info I get on doing this differs every time I get fish!)

The best advice I've had on this was to
- leave the bag in the water until the temperatures match
- add about 1-2 cupfuls of water to the bag every 15 mins until you've doubled the water in the bag
that means the fish will gradually be in half fish shop water and half your water.

If the bag is big enough, you can always add even more. If the fish shop water parameters are very different to your water, the more you add the better.

#11 Justaduck

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:30 PM

My pet store do 24/48 hr return policy. You just need to take a water sample in.

#12 BetteBoop

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:41 PM

QUOTE (broncosbabe @ 12/12/2012, 02:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My pet store do 24/48 hr return policy. You just need to take a water sample in.

I'm imaginging OP in a Pythonesque sketch.

OP: "This here is a dead goldfish".

Shopowner "Nah, it's just resting".

#13 tenar

Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:54 PM

You have to see it from the pet shop's perspective:

first they sell you a tank (almost always way too small) and some fish.  

Then the fish get sick, because the tank isn't cycled and its too small, so they sell you some fish medicine.  The medicine almost certainly makes the fish sicker and the fish die.  Then they get to sell you more fish.  

Repeat until you get sick of dying fish.

I truly believe that this is the reason why aquarium shop staff are so often so ignorant of the basic needs of the animals they sell.  Like selling schooling fish one at a time, selling goldfish as suitable for tropical tanks and bettas as suitable to those horrible unfiltered, unheated death traps they call "betta tanks".  Basically fish are cheap but the medicine etc is not, so there is no financial incentive for them to know how to keep your fish healthy.  So they don't bother learning much about it.  


If it were dogs people would be outraged, but people consider fish to be "disposable" pets.

OP, I'm sorry your fish died.  Better luck next time.

#14 CountryBumpkin

Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:05 PM

I don't know anything about fish, but our spa and pool run off our tank water and I know our water is high in phosphorous (not high but higher than scheme water) and we have to adjust accordingly. Just another thing to think about.

#15 ~*Amethyst*~

Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:15 PM

Sorry to hear about your fish OP. I didn't think Orandas were suitable for ponds?

Perhaps at least ring the pet shop, you might get a store credit & be able to buy some food for your remaining fish?


#16 LJandAJ

Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:26 PM

I know it is too late now. But feeding them a pea can help if it happens again. Also when buyi g faish make sure their top fin is up straight, a sagging one means it is unwell

#17 NunSoFeral

Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:51 PM

OP  - Sorry about your fish. sad.gif

There are several decent forums for fish that are good for fish and water keeping - fish forum, live fish, qldaf, aquarium life, with good info on cycling, disease, care.

Unsure of your location, but there are some excellent fish stores around.

*Sweeping generalisation* I've typically found shopping in dedicated fish shops results in far superior and healthier stock in addition to having more informed staff, than those stores that cater to all pets.

Of course this is not always the case.

One tip - don't float the pet shop bag in your tank/pond. Buy some thin tubing , put the fishy bag in a bucket and slowly drip feed your water into the bag (that is supported by the bucket).
I usually do this for several hours, depending on the type of fish.

This drip acclimitisation allows the fish to acclimitise to your water parameters (check them first - as pp advsied earlier - your ph, hardness, etc) but also eliminates possibility of cross contamination - pathogens and parasites from the fish shop water.

Also, nasties can lurk on the bag's exterior from storage - i.e. bug sprays.

After a few hours, tip fish bag out over net and pop your fish in.

Good luck with your next purchase!

#18 HurryUpAlready

Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:40 PM

Please take this info from a very novice gold fish owner with a grain of salt, however in the past I have revived many a floating "not quite dead" gold fish by popping half an Aspro Clear into the tank. It worked!!

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