Goldfish suffering from likely ammonia poisoning, possible to save him?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by t0m, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. t0mNew MemberMember

    Hi all,

    I am an inexperienced fish owner who adopted my roommate's dorm goldfish five years ago.

    A few days back I noticed him on the bottom of the tank, turned sideways. His tank looked particularly cloudy so I figured it was ammonia poisoning from unclean water. I did a full water change and about 30 min later my fish was back to normal.

    Today I woke up to find my goldfish on the bottom of the tank again, sideways. I changed the water again as quick as I could, leaving about 50% old water mixed with the new. This did not improve the situation so I brought out a brand new 10 gallon tank I had in storage and set it up, filling it with maybe 70% new water and 30% old water (the tank is much bigger than the old tank, which is around 2.5 gallons).

    In order to keep some of the bacteria present I transferred over the bubbler and fake plant into the new tank along with some of the old water. Considering the dire state of the fish I added him after letting the tank run for a few minutes - doubt he would have lasted too much longer in the old tank.

    The tank transfer was maybe 1.5 hours ago and my fish is still not showing much improvement. He is laying on his side, breathing at a normalish rate and sometimes trying to swim about the new tank.

    Tank Info:

    Partial water change about every two days, full water change (~50% old water mixed in) about every other week

    I do not have any testing kits at the moment so I do not know the current levels of ammonia.

    Old Tank:
    2.5 gallons
    API QuickStart in tap water

    New Tank:
    10 gallons
    API QuickStart in tap water

    Current situation: [​IMG]

    Think there is a chance for my fish to survive? Is there anything else I can do to help him?

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  2. XanderWell Known MemberMember

    For ammonia poisoning, the best cure is impeccably clean, well-oxygenated water and good water flow past his gills.

    a 2.5 gallon tank is -desperately- undersized for a goldfish, and would be made toxic by ammonia in very short order... How large is the little guy at this point? The 10 gallon might be adequate in the short term, but if you want to keep him happy and healthy, his home is going to have to get bigger...

    Keep up with the water changes. Make it daily. Surface agitation is good for oxygenation, as is colder water.

  3. Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Ouch, I can see the red gills.

    Ok, first question. Before your fish started to show symptoms, did you by any chance change your filter cartridge for a new one?

    Those red gills can be a sign of ammonia poisoning or nitrate poisoning. If you changed your cartridge, you threw away your cycle, and it started to cycle again, which in turn can cause this. Only about 5% of your beneficial bacteria live in the water and on plants/decorations. So transferring the water over to prevent a cycle won't work unfortunately. Plus if your ammonia is up in the other tank,you just transfered it over as well.

    I have a couple of recommendations, first of which is to get some Seachem Prime. It detoxifies ammonia and nitrite up to 1ppm for about 24 hours, which will stop the burning of the gills. Second thing I suggest you get is a test kit. With out those numbers, it's hard to make good suggestions. Lastly, do constant water changes a couple of times a day to reduce the ammonia in the tank.

    Unfortunately I can not say for sure if this will bring him back around, but it's a good start.

  4. AquaphobiaFishlore LegendMember

    The cloudiness was probably due to a bacterial bloom. What kind of a filter do you have on the tank? After so many years in that tiny tank your goldfish may have more wrong with him than simple ammonia poisoning.
  5. t0mNew MemberMember

    Thank you for the help, I'll make sure to change the water daily.

    The fish is around three inches long. When I looked at him just now he moved a bit, trying to swim but ended up moving in circles.
  6. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    If you can, get your hands on an API Freshwater Master Test Kit so that you can monitor these sort of things.
  7. t0mNew MemberMember

    The old tank did not have a filter. I had been changing the water by hand. It only had a bubbler.

    The new tank does have a filter and I put the bubbler in it as well.
  8. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Oh! There's a reason right there. You need a filter especially with such a waste producer as a goldfish. Have you read about the nitrogen cycle?
  9. t0mNew MemberMember

    Prior to today not too much. As soon as I saw the symptoms I began looking online.
  10. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Okay! Well I just reread your post. Your original tank was tiny for a goldfish. They are big waste producers and need a large tank (sometimes a pond eventually as some goldfish grow a foot long or so. Like a koi fish!) you said you've had it for 5 years? How large is it? I'm afraid it may have had its growth stunted by spending that time in such a small tank. A 10 gallon will be WAY more comfortable for him, and you may even see a growth spurt now that he has the room to grow into. I'd say in the long run he'd probably need 40-50 or so gallons to himself, but that's if his growth hasn't been stunted too much.

    Definitely research the nitrogen cycle, get the test kit, and pick up Seachem Prime too. It will help you cycle the tank with him in it while keeping him from harm.
  11. Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    If he was in an unfiltered situation, he needed 50% water changes daily. Gold fish have a very high bio load, and in that small setting, the ammonia can jump to 1 ppm in 12 hours. Due to his age and being in that bowl so long, he might not be able to fight back well enough to survive a cycle with out major assistance. It sounds like his resistance to the ammonia from the bowl is diminished.
  12. t0mNew MemberMember

    Just did a 10-15% water change. Looks like his breathing is more rapid than before.

    Doubt I'll be able to get   tonight as the local pet stores have all closed. :(
  13. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    I am not familiar with QuickStart. Is that a water conditioner?

    Also you should pick up Prime as soon as it is possible.
  14. Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Wait, your only using quick start right? I believe that does not remove chloramine or chlorine. I would recommend that you run to the local grocery store or even Walmart and get some dechlorinater. That could be the issue
  15. t0mNew MemberMember

    You're right! Turns out I had a sample of Aqueon Water Conditioner that came with the 10 gallon tank. Just added 5 ml.
  16. codyrex97Well Known MemberMember

    Good to hear! Prime will be a water conditioner once you pick it up, as well as its ability to detoxify ammonia and nitrite (1ppm per dosage) for about 24 hours.

    Keep us posted on how it's going and don't hesitate to ask questions!
  17. Dragones5150918Well Known MemberMember

    Sorry I didn't think of that sooner! Poor fish suffering. :( Let us know how things are going.
  18. t0mNew MemberMember

    Fish looks about the same as yesterday, but he's still alive.

    Picked up Prime and a test kit today. Just added a bit over 1 ml of the Prime to the 10 gallon tank. According to the test both the chlorine and ammonia levels are safe. I am somewhat surprised.
  19. peregrineValued MemberMember

    t0m what exactly where the test results. ((Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)) Safe is relative and with goldfish their bioload is large so can change quickly. And was the test done before or after prime was added? Also I would advise getting either TSS+ or Stability as those are beneficial bacteria boosters and can help cycle the tank.
  20. t0mNew MemberMember

    I performed the test prior to adding the Prime.

    If I understand the results correctly, these are the numbers:

    Nitrate ~20
    Nitrite .5-1.0
    Hardness ~150
    Chlorine .5
    Alkalinity ~180
    pH 8.4

    On a second look, it may be that the chlorine is too high.

    Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 12.24.09 PM.pngphoto-2.JPGphoto-3.JPG

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