Need help diagnosing fish illness

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by CheeseInTheDark, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    Howdy folks.

    I have one goldfish in a 30 gallon tank named Fillipo. He(?)'s about 6 years old. Found him abandoned in a tupperware dish : ( . He had one friend who didn't survive past the first couple hours after I found him. I think something may be wrong with Fillipo but I'm not sure. If someone could offer some suggestions (or even just tell me I'm worrying about nothing) it would be greatly appreciated!

    He has red areas in his tail and along his back just forward of the tail. His fins are ragged. The spot where his pectoral fins join his body are dark red/red. Also he's swimming erratically - every once in a while he will dart around the tank like something freaked him out, bumping into multiple walls or the bottom of the aquarium. What's more, some fuzzy, stringy, white growth or slime has started appearing on my plastic plants and the filter intake.

    On the plus side, he doesn't look that bad. I'm not actually entirely sure he's sick. He still eats and swims around, but I want to see what people with more fish knowledge than me think.

    Events leading up to this point:

    About two months ago he got popeye, which I treated with Furan 2. He healed up quite nicely afterward. About a month ago, I decided to change out a good portion of water as well as remove some of the gravel. Taking the gravel out kicked up lots of detritus though and made the water cloudy, so I stopped. I also removed most of my plastic plants/other decorations, dried them off, then put them in a shoebox. A week later I noticed a red patch at the end of his tail and started keeping an eye on it. I made some water changes after seeing the water quality could use improvement. The chemistry has fallen within safe ranges after that every time I've checked the water. Brown algae (?) started appearing on the sides of the tank frequently enough that I felt the need to wipe it off around the same time. There was not a lot of it. About two weeks ago, I thought I noticed the development of the red area along the back. Last week the red area along the back grew more distinct, so I decided to go to the fish store and ask for some advice. I walked out with some erythromycin. I also bought some marine sand. Over the course of the week I removed gravel from the aquarium and let the detritus clear up before continuing (during this time I frequently rinsed out the carbon filter pad), then I rinsed the sand and placed it in the aquarium, and re-added some of the plastic plants I kept in the shoebox. There has been no brown algae since then. Shortly thereafter the pectoral fin joints started looking abnormally red/purple (or perhaps I just never paid them any attention, maybe they're supposed to look that way?). He seemed to be happy with the sand, he rooted around in it like he did the gravel and swam around doing fish things. The next day I began the erythromycin treatment (4 doses with 1 dose every 24 hours, 25% water changes before the third dose and 24 hours after the fourth). He was showing signs of irritation prior to the first treatment including darting around the tank. Water chemistry looked fine, an ammonia test strip matched the lowest value on the chart. On the third day of treatment, while I was changing the water, I noticed the white stuff on the plants. Not sure if it's bacteria, fungus, fish mucus, fibrous material from the filter I kept rinsing, or what. It was slimy when removed from the tank. Today was the last day of treatment. The white growths were larger, I removed the plants and rinsed them/wiped them off, and attempted to wipe off the filter intake. If my fish has something it has been largely unresponsive to the erythromycin. His tail fin has improved slightly, there is a thin white area between the bloody area on his tail and the tip of the tail now. The red area by the base of the tail has not improved, the pectoral fin base seems to be slightly more red than it initially was. He is still darting around the tank and slamming into the walls/sand every once in a while.

    Of course, all that being said, it's hard to judge these kinds of problems without seeing them, so I have also taken a lot of pictures. I tried to highlight some of the problem areas.

    20160628_191121.jpgView attachment 20160628_191605.jpgView attachment 20160628_191617.jpgView attachment 20160628_191625.jpgView attachment 20160628_191646.jpgView attachment 20160628_191702.jpgView attachment 20160628_191704.jpgView attachment 20160628_191708.jpgView attachment 20160628_191714.jpgView attachment 20160628_192439.jpg

    Some the pictures are sideways apparently. Well alright then. Anyway, what should I do?

    Thanks for reading.

  2. BeekerWell Known MemberMember

    Hi CheeseInTheDark and welcome to Fishlore!
    Your little guy is cute!
    It sounds like you got some bad advice from the fishstore.
    Sand, more often than not, is not a good substrate for goldfish. You should stick with gravel. The red on your fish is most likely due to stress and poor water conditions. This is easily cleared up with clean water, not medications. Medications can make matters worse when they aren't needed.
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you were better off before you went to the fish store. You should switch back to the gravel, stop using the medication immediately and do a large water change.
    The white film is most likely a bacterial bloom caused by the natural process of the tank going through the Nitrogen Cycle.
    Do you have a liquid test kit or strips?
    What are the readings from Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates?
    What do you use for a dechlorinator/water conditioner?
    What is the temperature of the water and what filter do you have?

  3. Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    If I had to guess for a diagnosis, Velvet/maybe Columnaris/Ich(fin rot).

    But my suggestion.

    Dont use meds yet.

    Put your goldie in a bucket/bowl, remove sand, and add gravel back. Do a thorough full tank cleaning. Dechlor your water, and wait a few mins to start your filter (chlorine kills good bacteria!)

    For sure get some strips or a liquid test kit. (If you get strips get 6in1 so you know ammonia levels too! Also check your tap water) I dont personally think this is a bacterial bloom, but I wouldnt rule it out.

    Thanks Beeker I agree.

  4. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    Hi, thanks for the replies!

    Ah nuts, I liked how the sand looked and the fact that everything stayed on top of it. Well, I guess I'll get it out of there then. Boo. Maybe I'll go for some gravel with a similar color.

    Beeker, I have test strips, the ammonia is at 0-0.5ppm, nitrate is 0-20ppm (color was about halfway between the two chart colors, guessing it's about 10ppm), nitrite was 0-0.5ppm. I'll attach a picture of the readings I took.

    As far as the water conditioner goes I've actually never used any. I'll go get some. The water temperature is about 70 degrees F. This is the filter I have, or if not this one precisely then one that is almost exactly the same.

    After I came home from work today I found Fillipo's tail looking somewhat better. There are red areas at the back of the tail still but they appear to be diminishing. He also seemed to be swimming more calmly. The red area on his back seems to have stayed about the same. Pectoral fin bases are about the same. Before posting this topic last night I had given him the last dose of erythromycin, today I changed 25% of the water and put in a new filter pad to replace the old one which had sat out for a few days and was starting to fall apart. I'll discontinue using antibiotics or other medications.

    Here's one of the test strips 30 seconds after removal from the water:


    Here it is after 60 seconds for the nitrate:


    Here's the ammonia strip:


    Thanks again.
  5. Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    Looks uncycled. =\
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
  6. BeekerWell Known MemberMember

    It sounds like your tank isn't cycled yet.
    You should pick up some Tetra Safe Start and follow the directions on the bottle.
    Water dechlorinator/conditioner is a must. Prime is the best out there and I and most Fishlore members use it, swear by it, love it.
    It would also be best if you picked up a liquid test kit. The API Master Kit is the one that most Fishlore members swear by, myself included.
    Test strips are highly temperamental and are often inaccurate.
    Those items are all you need for now. I'm sorry you got bad advice from the fish store, but that is a very common thing. Whenever you have questions, ideas, concerns, etc., come here and ask Fishlore members first. We have the health and welfare of your fish at heart and no ulterior, money-making motives.
  7. PeacefantasyWell Known MemberMember

    Agreed. Ditch the strips and grab the liquid test kit and Prime. Those are the most important things in this hobby.
    Also, you dont want to change your filter cartridges until you seed another one with the one falling apart. It contains your beneficial bacteria
  8. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    Okie doke, I went ahead and picked up the liquid testing kit, some Prime, and the store was all out of Tetra Safe Start so I bought what I thought was an equivalent product. Do I need the Safe Start specifically? Reading about it now I see that it might be the only one that actually adds live bacteria to your aquarium, unless someone has found a way around the patent ¬_¬. What I ended up buying was Top Fin Readistart Nitrifying Bacteria Starter. I took readings of the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate after I got home today with the liquid test kit, the ammonia matched 0.25 ppm most closely, the nitrate and nitrite were both at 0. Owing to the ammonia I changed out 25% of the water. Then I added the conditioner and the nitrifying bacteria starter. I also bought some nice translucent whitish gravel, I'll rinse it off and put it in the tank later. Fillipo's condition is unchanged since yesterday.

    Any advice on reading the results from the test kit? It can be hard to read because of how the test tube and the liquid refract the light.

    Thanks for your help everyone, I'll bring back news as the situation changes.
  9. Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    I personally dont know if I like liquid test kit yet, really not as nice as strips imo. I feel they are just as accurate. Ifyour ammonia is under 0.50ppm I wouldnt worry about it. (Did you shake your Nitrate #2 bottle before adding really good?) Yes that bacteria starter is fine.

    I have heard TSS is just a bottle of sugar, but it worked for me, so I digress.

    Just remember, your biological cycle NEEDS ammonia to eat. So waterchanges may be bad and decrease effectiveness of your cycle.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2016
  10. PeacefantasyWell Known MemberMember

    You may feel the strips are just as accurate, but the test kit is still cheaper in the long run (and less wasteful. Yay environment!)

    OP, your cycle hasnt started yet (probably due to changing the filter cartridge)
    Have you had a chance to read up on the Nitrogen Cycle yet?
  11. Skyy2112Valued MemberMember

    Thanks Peacefantasy I like that, however they dont test waterhardness either! (I do currently have a liq test, and a gh/kh liquid) Personally, Petsmart tests for free. I think that will be my weekly stop on the way to my lfs when they run out.
  12. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    From what I've read the nitrogen cycle is the successive spiking of ammonia, nitrite, then nitrate as the bacteria grow and eat the first two in succession until your nitrates just continue to increase until you change the water, with the nitrates being the least harmful of the three chemicals. What I don't know are a lot of the details, for instance I didn't know how high to allow the ammonia concentration to get, how long it should take for the cycle to get going in a given tank, whether or not I can rely on a good population of bacteria to live in the other components of the filter I have or if it's almost all in the filter pad, etc.

    A few days later and I'm happy to report that from a behavior standpoint Fillipo is much calmer. He's not working on setting the world record for fish/solid-object collisions on and off anymore, rather he is gently swimming around his tank. I am still concerned about the area on his back, it still appears redder than normal. His tail also is still red in the same corner it has been. The white growths on the plastic plants are still appearing.

    The first tests I took I messed up the instructions and shook the test tube for 30 seconds before adding the #2 bottle. This time I shook the #2 bottle and then added it. Here's what I got:


    Looks to me like about 0.50 ppm of ammonia, between 0 and 0.25 ppm of nitrite, and 5 ppm of nitrate.
  13. BeekerWell Known MemberMember

    Check your tap water.
    I suspect your tank is uncycled and the Nitrates are in your tap.
  14. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    I think you're right. There is a nitrate advisory for my area, they are reading 10.5 ppm at the intake.
  15. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    I found this thing floating around in my tank today, stuff like it has been coming out of Fillipo...Is this normal? I've read that this kind of thing can be indicative of internal parasites, but I have no experience to confirm this.

    Today's ammonia reading is hovering around 0.50 ppm again.

  16. BeekerWell Known MemberMember

    It looks like your fish has gas.
    No biggie.
    He's probably been gulping air due to the ammonia in the water. Sometimes they just gulp air anyway. One of mine used to do it after eating, kind of like the way we drink water to wash the food down.
  17. CheeseInTheDarkNew MemberMember

    Okay! Good to know.

    I did some more research into the safe start stuff. No other bacteria starters have been willing to claim that their product contains live bacteria, and whenever I tried to look into how exactly it was that they were supposed to work, I didn't get any answers. With that in mind, I thought I'd try and help Fillipo out by getting some of the stuff and using it. If it didn't work, then it didn't work. The results were not as immediate as they claimed it would be, but I have some evidence that the tank may be cycling now. I also have some that says it may not be.

    Last Friday I got an 8.45 oz bottle of safe start and used about 60 ml of it based on a combination of answers posted by the manufacturer to questions and instructions on the bottle. The next day I wasn't seeing any changes, so I added most of the rest of the bottle. The third day I still wasn't seeing significant changes, so I added the remainder of the bottle. I also managed to break two of my test tubes x_x.

    July 4th's readings:


    July 11th (I think the lighting difference makes these significantly darker-looking):


    July 13th:


    I also took a reading of the tap water shown below. Looks like we still have plenty of nitrates. In fact I'd say we have a lot more than we did ten days ago, because...


    ...When I took a second measurement of the aquarium nitrates, the tap water had more. Wat. The aquarium sample is on the right.


    So the way I see it the tank could be starting to cycle, because comparing the nitrates reading from the fourth and the ones from today, it seems the levels have increased. At the same time though, the ammonia does not really seem to be dropping, so perhaps the bacteria are still splitting, or the tank is not cycling. What do you think?

    Anyway, back to the matter at hand, the fish itself xD. Fillipo is not showing any signs that he is ill behaviorally. He eagerly begs for food and is not resting on the bottom of his tank, hanging at the surface of the tank, etc, and he is otherwise swimming around like he always has. His condition is about the same as far as the red portions on his back/tail. I am beginning to wonder if the red spot on his back at least is not simply normal. If it were a bacterial problem I'm not sure he would still be here? I wanted to take some pictures, but haven't been able to get any decent pictures of him. I'll try again later.

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