Goldfish tail rot?!

  • #1
I apologize if this has been addressed in another thread - I'm new to the forum. I have a goldfish and he (possibly she, but we've been calling it a boy and named it Jonah) now has what I believe to be tail and fin rot. I've read everywhere about the symptoms and appearances and I think that's what this is. He's by himself in a 10 gallon tank. I've had him for 5 years now and never before had any health issues. We even moved from western Virginia to Southeastern NC a few years ago with no issues. Just last month we moved from NC to GA. I think it caused excessive stress. Then to top it off, his original tank cracked and we had to start over with a new one. So not only did he have to spend time in his travel container, but then he went through the stress of cycling a new tank. Anyway this started last week in his tail. He did have a couple of white spots on the tail but I wasn't sure if it was something I had missed before. Then the ends were frayed and looked like fingers. I did try Melafix but I really didn't like the cancer warning on the bottle so I stopped it and changed out the water. He started to get better. Then today the fins on his belly and all four points of his tail are frayed, some are darkened, others have white streaks. I do see some bloody patches. Also, I think he's either what you call a fan tail or fancy goldfish? Long, flowing fins. So to get to the point, I ordered some Maracyn Two and put two packets in the water (it says two packets per ten gallons on day 1) after I did a water change. He's only got rocks, a wall that holds his bubbler tube, and decorative sign with smooth edges. I know he didn't get caught on anything and he has no roommates to be biting him or anything like that. I figure it must be bacterial, right? I adore this fish and want to make sure he's going to be OK. Am I doing the right thing or is there something else I should be doing? Thanks in advance!
  • Thread Starter
  • #2


I'm trying to attach a picture. He's still really active. Can someone tell me if I need to do a water change at all while using the Maracyn 2? He's messy and usually requires a partial change every few days but the meds did not advise on any water changes. After the 5 day treatment is over should I use Melafix again to help him regrow the tissue?
  • #3
Welcome to FishLore!!

I'm sorry your goldy is worrying you.
It looks like fin rot to me too.
As you probably know, it can have several causes.
Bacterial, fungal or stemming from water quality.

When you're using maracyn you're not supposed to change the water.

Perhaps feeding less or even fasting will cut down on the waste produced.
I know it's hard when they swim at you with their cute little faces!

Melafix or maybe just pristine water along with extra stress coat, vitachem and garlic gaurd.
They're great for helping boost the immune system.

Good luck.
I hope your goldy is feeling better soon.
  • #4
Welcome to Fishlore! I hope you can get the finrot problem taken care of.

Another consideration is that because goldfish are such large waste producers, they need a fairly large aquarium size - usually 29 gallons is the recommended minimum for one goldfish. If upgrading to a larger tank is within your means, I'm sure Jonah would appreciate it.
  • #5
Yes a larger tank with a good filter and lots of aeration, goldfish use a lot of oxygen as well as creating lots of waste, it maybe that its natures way of telling you he has finally outgrown the 10 gallon tank, get as big a tank as you can possible afford, here is why.

Goldfish are not solitary creatures, they love company, get him a friend, he will thank you for that as well.

What are your water parameters?

Also goldfish prefer lower temps, which is also good for getting rid of the bad bacteria, lower temps, lots of oxygen and a friend in a bigger tank = happy fish.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
You know, I'm not sure Maracyn 2 is working. The fin I'm worried about has really dark red streaks and is very torn up. It's not gotten any less red and I've put the first 2 packet dose on Monday and yesterday the 1 packet day 2 dose. Now he's barely moving. His dorsal fin is back down. I also do NOT have a test kit. Until just recently I had never known I would need one. Right now I don't have a job and can't afford to buy one. Can I change any of his water out?! Do I replace the meds I'm removing? He was really active for the first day. Somewhat active yesterday and today not really moving that much. I've never had any trouble with his health for 5 YEARS!!! I have some store-bought water. Gallons of water purified by reverse osmosis. Should I be using that?

Also, it's not getting worse. Progression of fin damage has stopped but it's just not improving in appearance.
  • #7
Fins and tails take AGES to heal, even when the cause of damage is removed. It took nearly 6mths for Mr Gold's tail to completely heal. Oh, and healing fins/tails have black bits on, before that causes you the same kind of panic it caused me! Super super clean water and time is what he needs. And lots of attention, goldies love to talk to their owners

Wait for one of the more experienced fish keepers to comment on the RO water, there can be some significant issues connected with it.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks Octonaut. I'm just really worried because he's barely moving. How long does the red stay in the fins? I thought the Maracyn was supposed to make that get better?
  • #9
HI there and welcome to Fishlore.
1st of all do keep up the water changes it helps in the long run, and your fish will love it too, 2ndly don't worry your fish will be fine, have you heard about teramycin capsules, this is an antibiotic med for humans which I use to treat my fishes for any bacterial infections, though you need to give less dosage for fishes it does the job.

What you have to do.
1. see how bad is the fin rot is it in its initial stages or at a more progressive stage.
2. if its at the initial stages then the treatment will be for 2-3 days otherwise a longer time period.
3. buy a strip of 10 capsules of teramycin 250mg.
4. add one capsule in the morning and one at night, remember to change the water every morning before you add the med and also stop feeding the fish for two days when starting the treatment.
5. KEEP A Very Close EYE of your fishes health, and since your tank size is small I suggest you not go overboard with the dosage.
6. on the third day the the frayed fins will have disappeared which is a good sign that the fin rot bacteria is no more. do a 70% wc and add 2 tablespoons of rock salt which has on additives, salt is a natural antiseptic and help your fish in getting back its slime coat and prevent any infections on the fins.
7. start feeding your fish, but little so as not to starve him. your fish should be back on track in a weeks time.
8. if the fin rot is still presistent then repeat the steps from 4 to 6 again. your fish should recover back in no time.
This is what has worked for me and hopefully it might work for you to..
the best way to help heal your goldfish or any fish for a matter of fact is do frequent water changes.
Hope this helps you, keep us updated with pics of your fish.
  • #10
At this point in time you need to get the water quality improved. Do not use store bought water,use regular tap water.

Right now your fish needs fresh water, don't worry about the meds at this point we can address that again after the water quality is sorted.

Do a 50% water change, using water that you have worked over ( poured from one container to another for a few times) this gets rid of the supersaturated gases that the water authorities put in the tap water, treat with your usual water conditioner.

Do the water change gradually so as not to shock your fish.

Did you remove your carbon filter or did you just turn the filter off? If you turned it off turn it back on, drop the level of the water a little bit so that your filter creates a little waterfall, this will help get more oxygen into the water, goldfish use a lot of oxygen so this is important.

Can you take a photo of the tank with the fish in please and post it to this thread?

The red streaks in the tail have nothing to do with fin rot and everything to do with ammonia poisoning, which is why you must do a water change as soon as possible....
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
The filter is on. I've already done a 50% water change this morning because I felt he was slowing down because of it. I couldn't get into the forum today so I went with my gut and see that Tuufy confirmed my suspicions right after I had done the change. I also found we have a LFS here. The lady said it's due to bad water. I just did another partial change. I really don't know what to do. It doesn't seem to be helping. She said the town water here just had high levels of chlorine, which I'm taking care of with the water treatment. She also said to add salt. She's seen this a million times (been doing this for 20 years) and said it should work out but this is absolutely freaking me out. Now he's cloudy and I'm assuming the Maracyn 2 I had put in there is doing it. How soon can I do the water change again (there was a span of a few hours between the two changes today)? Should I put the carbon back in the filter? He's still swimming around and checks us out every time we come in the room... just at a slower pace.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Well, I've done another 30ish% change following the two 50% changes yesterday. He's insistent on moving around the tank as opposed to just laying in the corner like he did for a bit yesterday. I'm assuming that's a good sign? He's wobbly, though. At this point I'm not sure he'll get better. I plan on doing another partial change later, if you all agree with that. I did the "work over" of the water. What else can I do? Is this even something he can recover from or do we need to euthanize him? I cannot stand to let a creature suffer.
  • #13
DO another change, make sure you treat the water, what treatment are you using?

Can you drop the water level down a bit so the filter makes a waterfall, it doesn't have to be huge maybe 1" or so............, just to create disturbance on the top of the water and bubbles going in.

try and keep the temp in the tank as low as possible. do you know what the temp is?

Goldfish can withstand very low temps the lower you go the slower they use oxygen up which will also help him until you can get a bigger tank.

remember I said 10 gallon is not big enough.

And the whole friend idea doesn't need to be right now, we need to get stabilty in your tank first....................

can you provide pictures????
  • Thread Starter
  • #14


He had really slowed down this morning and last night. I actually did two water changes of about 30% today. I've been using Tetra's AquaSafe to condition for chlorine and chloramine. I will have to get back to you in a minute with the temp. His dorsal fin is perkier and the red in his fins is not as spread out now but seems to be more concentrated at the tips. If you need the photos further out, let me know. I was trying to get his color to show up in them. My digital will not take a clear shot of him so I had to use my webcam. I tried to make a video but my internet is not fast enough to upload the ones I made. I think I should do another water change. The LFS person I spoke with suggested salt in the water to heal the rot... do I want to not add this when I do the next change? It's Jungle Aquarium Salt.

Oh, he has that "fishy" smell that really nasty tanks get but I have essentially replaced 60-80% of the water today so really I don't know why he smells...
  • #15
He needs more oxygen the best way you can do that is actually with a pond pump and a bigger tank, I haven't tried jungle aquarium salt but should imagine it would be more or less the same as apI salt that I have, but I would for now hold off on the salt coz you have just been medicating him with different things, give him a chance to calm down from the water changes, working the water over, if you can get prime by seachem, it makes everything in the water safer for the fish, its my personal fav and is all I use in my tank.

I think as you are doing daily water changes at present, you need only treat the amount of water you are putting into the tank, anything we can do to not stress out your fish is best, this way you are not over dosing him on water treatment chemicals, which whilst is says it isn't harmful to fish, it is still a chemical of sorts.

Look on craigs list for a bigger tank, if you can get a bigger tank for cheap preferably with a filter already, I Can help you find a good pond pump for it,

Also how big is your goldy now? YOu know they keep growing................... so for instance if he was 5' long including tail then you would need a 10 gallon tank, but you will want to get a larger one than that coz he is gonna keep I think you would want to be looking for a 40 or 50 gallon tank coz then he will have room to grow, room to swim, and you will have room to get him a friend................

Get a tank that is long rather than tall as goldies like to swim from side to side rather than up and down........................
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
OK one more thing before I do the change (thanks so much for your patience and help), I was told the water here is heavily chlorinated and I can smell this very clearly when I collect any whether it's in a glass to drink or a bucket to put in the tank. Should I use extra conditioner? I've been following the direction on the bottle but I was wondering if this is not enough.
  • #17
I have read what it says about dosing on my bottle of prime and it says you can use a double dose if chlorine and chloramine levels are high, perhaps you can find out from your water company what the levels are in theory you should be ok, have you tested the water to see what the parameters are???? if you don't have your own testing kit, you can take a sample to your LPS

NO worries on the help or patience, I and everyone else on here who pops up and helps are doing it coz we were all newbies at some time or another, I am new to trops so I come here for advice on them................I just happened to spot oyur troubles with your goldie and I have a soft spot for goldies!!!!! even though I don't currently have any...........................hmm(note to self move to bigger home and start to suffer from MTS)

Like we have said before he is suffering from ammonia poisoning, so that is the top priority getting the ammonia levels down and giving him a chance to recover, BTW what is his name?
  • Thread Starter
  • #18


Here's a couple further back. He's about 4-5 inches mouth to tip of tail. His name is Jonah. My boyfriend got the story wrong. I made the comment that he keeps growing and now he's really a whale trying to disguise himself as a goldfish. My boyfriend then started calling him Jonah despite the fact that Jonah was eaten by the whale and was not, in fact, the whale. I'm going to do another water change with no salt and slightly extra conditioner. I don't want to go so far as to double it.

OK so I did about 50% this time due to wanting to remove the salt. I added a bit extra conditioner due to the chlorine smell. He got feisty with me like he used to (it's a very sensitive issue with him when I move the rocks to the wrong place) for a couple of minutes but now he's just hovering again. I also have the water level about an inch and a half below the filter output so he has more bubbles in the water now.
  • #19
Good girl dropping the water a little will help with the oxygen until you can get him a bigger tank, he is already almost too big for this tank, and he hasnt got room to swim properly or anyone except you to communicate with , goldfish are very interactive fish once they get to know you, already you have seem this with Jonah, they are not solitary creatures so you will need to get him a fishy friend, I think the kind of goldie he is means he is slower growing, so get the same kind of fish when you do get one and you will be set, if you got a 50 gallon tank, you could even maybe get 2 little friends.

When you get the bigger tank, you don't need to get as much gravel as the pet store says, you only want about 1/4 to 1/2" layer, less places for the waste to get into means less places for bad bacteria to flourish. I say when coz I am sure you could find one on craigs list for not too expensive, for instance

Something like this may work, I don't know if you can go that big or not its just a for instance......................

Do you have a gravel vaccum?
  • #20
Glad to know that your goldie is recovering, I my self have 5 goldies in a 55 gallon tank which I know is a overstock as per some people but I do 50% water changes every 2nd day so its not much of a problem.. and the part about them getting attached to the owner is so right whenever I go near the tank the all clamour near the surface for food. its like they know when I come they'll get feed, but the same thing doesn't apply to anyone else (es my girlfriend.. )

and as for your goldie get a larger tank and keep up the water changes and scrap everything else i've said about the use of meds..
hope to see pics of him when he has recovered..
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
He's got more red today... I really don't know what else to do now.
  • #22
get the water tested at your LPS to check your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates levels, yesterday I got myself confused, clamped fins is indicative of ammonia poisoning, red streaks in tail/fins is more to do with nitrites you have a gravel vaccum? I can't remember if you said or not, I will be back I have to go see my girl off to school......
  • #23
I wouldn't worry about the reddening right now, just keep up the water changes and get a bigger tank asap
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I'm taking the tap water and a tank sample to the store. Hopefully it's fixable
  • #25
Always keep one thing in mind, stability in the water parameters = HEALTHY FISH..
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
So in the even that the source water is the problem, is it possible to use store-bought water?
  • #27
the water source is not likely to be the issue, and using store bought water would be an expensive thing to do........................the water is only going to be an issue until the tank is cycled, do you know about the nitrogen cycle ? you need to look at getting a bigger tank, you can't really keep Jonah in this tank, its too small for him, he doesn't have space to swim much, by far your best option is to get him into a bigger tank, if you don't want to get one from craigs list you could look at something like this , with a filter and then a water don't need a heater for a goldie..........................

Really this is going to be the way to go for Jonah, I can't stress it enough, even if you got this small tank to cycle, when you did get him a bigger tank you may well have to cycle again .....................

When you take your water to the store, make sure you right down the numbers, we need ammonia nitrites, nitrates, ph and kh ( if the test for that some stores dont)

And if you can get a bottle of Prime.....

BTW you can get many things to do with fish from amazon for cheaper and with free shipping for a lot of them too............
  • #28
Get some Seachem prime, and dose the tank daily as well as the changes each day. It will keep the water safe for him until you can move him to a bigger tank.
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
The only thing off in the tests was pH. 7.6-7.8. The ammonia was 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate was in the lowest safe level. The pH is the same from the tap as it is from the tank. She said he probably got some sort of sickness from the move from NC to GA. She said that despite the pictures he doesn't have dirty water issues. She said to try Melafix again. Also, change out the rocks to a pre-polished type.
  • #30
change out the rock when you go to a bigger tank, can you go to a bigger tank? the ph isn't too bad, mine is higher than that and my goldies did fine with it, my troppies seem to for the most part.................
  • #31
I also do NOT have a test kit. Until just recently I had never known I would need one. Right now I don't have a job and can't afford to buy one.

This must be highly frustrating to you. Although it would be really awesome, and yes your goldfish does need a bigger tank, I think we need to just try to help you under the circumstances you are caught in at the moment the best we can.

You are doing a wonderful job of water changes. This will go a long long way to helping your goldfish feel better. The blood in your goldfish's fins is being caused by a bacteria in the blood. This bacteria causes something called Hemorrhagic Septicemia. Normally this condition would be treated with antibiotics such as Tetracycline or Maracyin II, but I read you experienced some difficulties when you initially tried treating your goldfish with Maracyn II. Antibiotics can affect oxygen concentrations so that could have been part of the issue, so I would like to try something a little different, if you're up to it. Being as you have Maracyn II on hand, I'd like you to try using it in a slightly different way. I'd like you to try soaking your goldfish food in it. Take a container and add some of the maracyn II powder to it. You don't have to use the whole packet. Then add just enough water to desolve the medication. Soak the food for about 10 minutes, then serve it to your fish. Do this twice ad day for 5 days, 10 at most.

There is another inexpensive product that if you can sneak out about $4. for that could be very beneficial to the recovery of your goldfish. Hopefully you will be able to find at your petstore. It helps the fish utilize more oxygen, and can be used to treat nitrite poisoning. You will often see this type of product being used mostly in betta bowls in the stores. Yep, that pretty blue water is there for a good purpose, and it may very well be able to help your fish too. Here is a link so that you can read up on the product.
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
OK so today almost all the red is gone. He's three times more active and has started eating again. He's sifting through the gravel and interacting with us way more. I'm using Melafix per bottle directions. I realize it's not truly an antibacterial agent but so far it's the only thing that has done anything with a positive result. The fish store owner told me that he probably got the bacterial infection from the move across states. I think we took longer to move from NC to GA than we did from VA to NC but it's been 3 years since we left VA so I don't really remember. Her main suggestion was clean water and said Melafix would help him regrow his fins.

Toosie, I read your suggestion about soaking the food in Maracyn II. Unfortunately I don't think it would work in this case. He didn't eat for two days and only started once I started the Melafix. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm a lunatic because I ran around screaming about how wonderful my fish is for eating today and how great that is If you think it would still be a good idea after finishing with the Melafix, please let me know. I just don't want to upset the progress I'm seeing.

I am fully intending to get a 30 gallon tank once I have the funds. Along with the API master test kit. Eventually a little fantail friend for Jonah.

I'm attaching some updated pics. He really didn't want to stay still for the camera!! Basically what I'm trying to show you is that the red is now mainly isolated to the tips of his tail fins.

  • #33
yay! that's great news!!! So glad he's on the mend
  • #34
No, if you are seeing good signs of improvement, just keep doing what you are. If at the end of the Melafix treatment you still have concerns or if he suddenly starts to get worse again, let us know. Clean water in itself is amazing on how much it helps our little friends immune systems work well enough to flush toxins and heal a variety of different ailments. If Melafix is also helping him to do this, what more can a person ask for?

It's great to hear he is making some good improvements. Keep up the good work. After he is better, I'd like you to try to do water changes a few times a week if you can continue to manage that. With him being a big boy it will help to buy you a little time and maybe you'll get lucky and come across a good sized tank that somebody just wants to get rid of. Keep your eyes and ears open for those kinds of possibilities. Until then just make his home as clean and healthy as you can. Don't clean the filter unless you absolutely need to, and only rinse it in discarded tank water when you do. Don't change any of the filter media unless it really starts to fall apart. The only thing I'd like you to replace every 3 to 4 weeks is the activated carbon. If your filter is the cartridge type, just slice the top and shake and rinse out the old activated carbon but reuse the rest of the filter media cartridge. You can replace the activated carbon buy picking up a small box of it, placing a little of it in a media bag or the foot of a new pair of nylons, rinse it well and then place it into your filter chamber. You can slide it into the cartridge too if you like, it just makes it easier to remove and replace if you use the media bag instead of just pouring the activated carbon back into the cartridge loose. Taking care of filter media this way will help prevent you from losing beneficial bacteria unnecessarily and adding stress to your goldfish with ammonia and nitrite spikes. If you do need to change the filter because it IS falling apart, cut off the old filter media from the cartridge and place it on top of a new rinsed cartridge and insert all of it back into the filter. Leave the old media in for at least 2 weeks and then you can remove it if you want to. You can leave it in longer if you like because it won't hurt anything. If you are already doing this, I'll apologize now for boring you with my spiel.

You will need to use fresh activated carbon when the Melafix treatment is done along with a water change to remove the medication from the tank.

Good luck! Keep us posted on his progress or if you require more help.
  • #35
Glad to know that your goldie is doing great and also glad that you are looking for a new tank and a friend for him.. keep up the water changes as suggested by the members. and everything should be just fine..
  • #36
yay yay and yay!!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
OK everybody we just wanted to tell you Jonah has completed 7 days of Melafix treatment. We did a 25% water change today and replaced the carbon filter. I think he's 99% better. The four tips of his tail fins have red at the very ends. Everywhere else has left. All the spots on his body are gone. I can see areas of regrowth on his ventral fins. He's just in very cloudy water but the store told me it's due to not having carbon for a week. We'll see. He's much happier and we have also found out he absolutely goes wild over goldfish pellets. Nice for mom, too, since it will decrease his messes .

Here are some healthier pictures. I've tried to capture the remaining red but he's not so cooperative. He was too busy posing.

  • #38
Having no activated carbon really shouldn't cause cloudiness. There is probably just a little excess dissolved organic matter causing a bit of a bacterial bloom. A water change or two and a little time usually takes care of it. It definitely won't hurt him, it's just not as pleasant to look at.

He is looking much better. Just keep a close eye on him and keep up the good work.

Thank you for the pics and the update.
  • #39
He is a very handsome fish, now all he needs after this TLC is a bigger tank and then a little fishy friend, remember you can get goldfish that are slower growing!!!!
  • #40
nice the hear that..

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Question

Top Bottom