Need Help With Rescue Goldfish Please!

Volcanomom
  • #1
HI everyone. I'm a new freshwater person, sort of by accident. I am a science teacher and I rescued a goldfish (4" common) from being dissected in a different grade level. When I found him, he was in a bag with another of the same size that was already dead. Being thrown into fish ownership, I had no time to cycle the tank before putting him in it. He was in a rubbermaid shoebox for 24 hours while I went and got filter, air pump, gravel, etc. He is in a 20 gallon tank (buying a 40 gallon breeder this weekend) treated with Prime. I've been doing aproximately 90% water changes every day and testing with API Master Freshwater kit. Ammonia is hovering between .5 and 1 ppm total and .05 ppm free ammonia (based on Seachem in tank alert thingy). Nitrites .25 - .5 and Nitrates staying at about 5 ppm. Tank is on day 19 of cycling. Poor thing (His name is Lazarus because we thought he was dead at first) has what I think are ammonia burns on nose and fins and hasn't been eating at all. This morning I got to school and he is having these little spasms about every 10 seconds. Nose against the glass and just...twitching. I have gotten SO attached to him and have been trying to do anything I know to keep him alive and happy. Any idea on what the twitching might be and what else I can do that I'm not already doing?? Thank you in advance.
 
Blitzar
  • #2
It's possible that he was sleeping and then woken up. Please note that common goldfish get huge and need a pond to live out their lives completely. Their skeleton will grow to the size of the tank, but their organs will continue to grow until they get squished against the bones and fail. I would get him as big of a tank as possible.
 
Tank Girl
  • #3
It could be parasites. Praziquantel is great for flukes and ProForm-C will take care of most others.

Also, it’s a myth that a goldfish’s internal organs will continue to grow past the size of their skeleton. I’ve even heard claims that they will explode. They won’t. If a fish is stunted it just remains small, that’s all.
 
Volcanomom
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Would parasites just now show up? I've had him for almost 3 weeks. I don't think it's just that he was woken up because he's still doing it an hour and a half later.
 
Blitzar
  • #5
It could be parasites. Praziquantel is great for flukes and ProForm-C will take care of most others.

Also, it’s a myth that a goldfish’s internal organs will continue to grow past the size of their skeleton. I’ve even heard claims that they will explode. They won’t. If a fish is stunted it just remains small, that’s all.
Could I get a source for this, please? If it's not that, then why would a common goldfish prematurely die in a 10G with pristine water quality? I've worked with rescue fish before and I've seen a lot of the horrors that come from stunting.
 
Galathiel
  • #6
Article from Seriously Fish on stunting:

OP, I hope your goldfish will be okay. It was kind of you to rescue it. A common goldfish really needs 75 gallons by themselves as, with optimal care and conditions, they can reach up to 12 inches in length.
 
Mom2some
  • #7
Good for you for taking such care of Lazarus. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. When in doubt - do a water change. Does your source water have ammonia in it do you know?
 
LilBlub
  • #8
I looked into it and flukes can cause twitching, both of the fins and moving “as if the fish was startled”, which seems like what your guy is doing. They cause twitching, splits in the fins (which I noticed on his dorsal fin), bottom-sitting, disinterest in food, and “scratching”. I suggest you get an anti-parasitic medication. And yes, it is possible for your fish to be infected even if they’ve been in the tank for a while.

Oh, and I think it’s really great that you rescued him. I hope he recovers from this! And where did you “find” him? I’ve seen videos of live goldfish being thrown in the trash, etc, because people didn’t want them anymore.
 
Tank Girl
  • #9
Could I get a source for this, please? If it's not that, then why would a common goldfish prematurely die in a 10G with pristine water quality? I've worked with rescue fish before and I've seen a lot of the horrors that come from stunting.




That’s one source. Another is a researcher and professional breeder from another forum, but it may not appropriate to link to him from this forum. But when he shares information, you can take it to the bank.

As for why a common in a 10 gallon would die prematurely, even with pristine water, there could be many reasons. Genetics is one. Stress is another. Parasites. Dying prematurely is not proof of overgrown organs, though. I also highly doubt that anyone who would keep a common in a 10 gallon is likely to maintain pristine conditions.
 
Tank Girl
  • #10
Would parasites just now show up? I've had him for almost 3 weeks. I don't think it's just that he was woken up because he's still doing it an hour and a half later.

Absolutely. Most fish carry some parasites. If this fish was going to be dissected, it’s probably a feeder from a pet store and those fish are often kept in lousy conditions, making it even more likely to be infested.

I ALWAYS quarantine and treat new fish for parasites. No exceptions.
 
Volcanomom
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I don't think he was a feeder because he's almost 5" long, but he was from a pet store. I feel so helpless. It looks like shimmying? (I think that's what it's called). I don't know how to reduce his stress beyond what I'm already doing. I've been doing a 90 percent water change every day since the tank didn't have time to cycle. I don't know if I should today. That stresses him out on its own. I will get some medicine tonight after school. He is basically quarantined because I don't have any other fish.
 
Tank Girl
  • #12
I don't think he was a feeder because he's almost 5" long, but he was from a pet store. I feel so helpless. It looks like shimmying? (I think that's what it's called). I don't know how to reduce his stress beyond what I'm already doing. I've been doing a 90 percent water change every day since the tank didn't have time to cycle. I don't know if I should today. That stresses him out on its own. I will get some medicine tonight after school. He is basically quarantined because I don't have any other fish.

You’re in a tough spot - I feel for you. Parasites are a possibility here, but you don’t know which ones. If it was me, I’d approach it like this: I’d treat with a malachite green/formalin combination (I happen to like ProForm -C because it’s fast) and use that for the recommended time frame. That will kill most external parasites. Then I’d use Praziquantel for flukes (which aren’t killed with ProForm-C). It’s very important to use several doses to kill them all. Some flukes are livebearers, which are easy to kill, but some are egg layers and if they’re present you’ll need several treatments to get rid of them. If you keep the temp around 75 degrees, it’ll speed up their life cycle and treatment will go faster. You may have to hold back a bit on water changes so you’re not wasting medication, so use Prime to detoxify ammonia. I hope this helps
 
Blitzar
  • #13
That’s one source. Another is a researcher and professional breeder from another forum, but it may not appropriate to link to him from this forum. But when he shares information, you can take it to the bank.

As for why a common in a 10 gallon would die prematurely, even with pristine water, there could be many reasons. Genetics is one. Stress is another. Parasites. Dying prematurely is not proof of overgrown organs, though. I also highly doubt that anyone who would keep a common in a 10 gallon is likely to maintain pristine conditions.


FD1ABBE9-9A7E-4571-A1EF-24418129DC93.jpeg
This source talks about hormonal suppression. That's not the same as your typical growth inhibition. This would be appropriate in a 3x4'x6" situation, while this isn't that. This is size inhibition, not hormonal.
 
Tank Girl
  • #14
View attachment 430604
This source talks about hormonal suppression. That's not the same as your typical growth inhibition. This would be appropriate in a 3x4'x6" situation, while this isn't that. This is size inhibition, not hormonal.

Can you share a source for your assertion? Something that confirms that once the skeleton stops growing, the internal organs continue to grow?
 
Coradee
  • #15
Please don’t derail this thread any further, if you want to continue your side discussion start a new thread.

A reminder of the Op’s Last post


I don't think he was a feeder because he's almost 5" long, but he was from a pet store. I feel so helpless. It looks like shimmying? (I think that's what it's called). I don't know how to reduce his stress beyond what I'm already doing. I've been doing a 90 percent water change every day since the tank didn't have time to cycle. I don't know if I should today. That stresses him out on its own. I will get some medicine tonight after school. He is basically quarantined because I don't have any other fish.
 
Gone
  • #16
It sounds like you have the right idea in terms of monitoring water parameters and doing water changes, but 90% every day is drastic. Water changes are hard on fish. I've cycled many tanks with goldfish, and never did greater than 25% water changes every other day.

I'd recommend backing way off on feeding and doing a much lower percentage of water changes. If you wanted to do 25% once a day, that probably wouldn't hurt, but 90% is just too much IMHO.
 
Volcanomom
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Thank you all for your help. He didn't make it. He passed away during my last class of the day. The kids are going to help me bury him tomorrow. Then I guess I will keep cycling the tank and once it's stable find another fin baby. It's so hard getting thrown into something like this with NO advance notice and trying figure out the best thing to do. There are so many sources of information out there and they give conflicting advice sometimes. I didn't do a water change today but I guess I stressed him too much. I was panicked about the ammonia levels. Definitely no more living things in there until it's fully cycled. Thank you all for your help.
 
Gone
  • #18
Don't beat yourself up. Unfortunately goldfish in those kind of conditions are usually very unhealthy. Your fish was in the same bag as the one that died, and yours couldn't have been far behind. Sometimes they're in such bad conditions that transferring into an aquarium with great water parameters is too much of a shock. Keep at it. Trying to create a healthy environment for fish is a great lesson for students.
 
Volcanomom
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
I looked into it and flukes can cause twitching, both of the fins and moving “as if the fish was startled”, which seems like what your guy is doing. They cause twitching, splits in the fins (which I noticed on his dorsal fin), bottom-sitting, disinterest in food, and “scratching”. I suggest you get an anti-parasitic medication. And yes, it is possible for your fish to be infected even if they’ve been in the tank for a while.

Oh, and I think it’s really great that you rescued him. I hope he recovers from this! And where did you “find” him? I’ve seen videos of live goldfish being thrown in the trash, etc, because people didn’t want them anymore.

He didn't make it - I lost him this afternoon. But I like to think his last couple of weeks were nice. He was brought in to a science class in a different grade level in my school (I teach 8th grade science) and they were going to lay him out and let him suffocate so they could dissect him. When I found him he was in the pet store bag with another the same size who was already dead.
 
LilBlub
  • #20
That’s so sad. But at least you gave him a good last few weeks, I’m sure he was grateful for that. I’m very sorry you lost him, and I hope you have more luck with any future fish.
 
Gone
  • #21
Were the really going to leave him out to suffocate? I hope that wasn't the teacher. I have no problem with dissecting goldfish for research purposes, but IMO they should teach effective euthanasia procedures as part of the lesson. Clove oil is one humane way of euthanizing, and there are other much quicker and more humane ways than taking it out of water and letting it suffocate.

Here's a suggestion. My wife was a grade school teacher for 30 years. I'd go in every fall and set up an aquarium for her classroom. She used the setup to teach about the nitrogen cycle. She used an API Master Test Kit. After the 10G tank was set up for a couple days, she'd add a trio of guppies. She kept a chart on the chalkboard showing ammonia levels, nitrite, and nitrate. They did 25% water changes three times a week. No feeding on weekends so there wasn't a problem with ammonia spikes. Ammonia would show up, then nitrites would build and ammonia would drop, then nitrates would build, and nitrites would drop, til eventually there was 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and low nitrates. The kids enjoyed it and learned something.

Then again, there were some less amusing episodes of the brutality of life in the wild, like when she added a baby crayfish and the dwarf frog immediately scarfed it down. I'm sorry. Her description of the hysteria that ensued, along with cries of, "Kill the frog! Kill the frog!," still crack me up.
 
jack22
  • #22
Your ammonia level is very high.

I know you mentioned that you've been doing 90% water change every day, which is very good for the fish but your ammonia reading suggest there's a problem.

The first thing I think of is that you've been over feeding your fish. This causes uneaten/rotting food in the tank; and hence, the high ammonia level even after 90% water changes. I'd suggest doing a complete water change and wash everything in your tank (with dechlorinated water). This mean you are restarting the nitrogen cycle, but it will also remove my #1 suspicion of rotting food trapped in the tank.

I'd suggest feeding the fish 2x per day with just enough food that it can finish in 1 minute; then remove any uneaten food. You can also feed your goldfish de-shelled, boiled sweet pea. The good thing about peas is that it is very easy to remove uneaten portions. (I know your fish food probably says something like 3x per day /5 minutes eating sessions; just try my 1-minute suggestion for a few days and see if your water quality changes.)

NOTE: you must change the feed for your goldfish. They require a variety of different foods in the long term to be healthy. So if you are only relying on commercial flakes; it is good to give peas anyway.

A 4" goldfish in a 10 gallon tank can survive; I have a friend with such a setup for 4 years (her goldfish grew from 1" to 4"). I think she changes the water only once a week.

A few things to keep in mind. Once you your water quality get better (i.e. < 0.25 ppm ammonia), your fish can heal itself. So keep up the water changes!
 
Galathiel
  • #23
The fish didn't make it unfortunately. It was kind of the OP to rescue it; at least someone cared what happened to it.
 
Gone
  • #24
I know you mentioned that you've been doing 90% water change every day, which is very good for the fish but your ammonia reading suggest there's a problem.

Wow. That seems awfully drastic. I really can't 90% water changes every day being good for fish. But I don't know everything.
 
Mom2some
  • #25
Sorry to hear it didn’t make it. For whatever it is worth - I think avoiding ammonia poisoning was a good choice. Good luck with your next inhabitants.
 
jack22
  • #26
Wow. That seems awfully drastic. I really can't 90% water changes every day being good for fish. But I don't know everything.

Yes, 90% water is drastic, but her ammonia level is really high. I agree that, under normal situations, 90% water change should be carried out carefully because of drastic water chemistry changes, e.g. ph. But in this case, I think it is good.
 
Volcanomom
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
I'm getting ready to set up a 40 gallon breeder and start cycling so hopefully, things will go better when I'm not starting in an emergency with a traumatized fish!
 

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