Septicemia Or Something Else

Becca Stephens
  • #1

I have 2 comet goldfish that I have had since November 2017. They're about 5 inches long. Up until the middle of August they were in a 20 gal tank which was too small so I placed them in a 40 gal tank. Before I moved them I noticed a little bit of white around the edges of their tails/ fins. I also noticed they were missing a few scales around- I believe this is due to them nipping at each other due to how small the tank was for the 2 of them.

After about 2 weeks in the 40gal, I noticed some red veins in their tails that I hadn't noticed previously. I have one red/orange fish and he only has one red vein near the base of his tail that he may have had previously. The other fish is white and orange with mostly white tail. He had a couple new red veins and a red spot on his body. I transferred both fish back to the 20gal to serve as a hospital tank (air stone and sponge filter). They went through one treatment of API fin and body cure.The red spot on the white fish vanished after a day and I finished out the treatment. I placed them back in the 40gal and then it was time for me to head back to college. I instructed my parents to keep an eye out and when the white fish got a red spot on his tail I headed back home. Both fish went back in the 20gal and underwent the first treatment of erythromycin. Red spot covered over with white film, same 'fluff' that was on the edges of both fishes tails that I noticed the month prior (which is still there). I kept fish in 20gal and they underwent one more erythromycin treatment. At this point the red spot is red again. Both fish still have lots of energy and act normal. Yesterday I made an attempt to put the red fish back in the 40gal and leave the white in the 20gal as the white seems to have more issues than the red and I didn't want to continue treating the red if he was ok- 20 minutes after putting red back in 40gal, white was sitting on the bottom of the 20gal. I think he was stressed as he didn't have his buddy with him. Placed him back in the 40gal and he's been acting normal since.

I am still concerned about these veins and the red spot as I don't know this could be. My original thought was septicemia but this has now been going on for about a month so I'm wondering if there could be another culprit.

My water parameters are
ammonia: 0ppm
nitrite: 0ppm
nitrate: 80ppm

I know my nitrates are high, I have been trying to lower them. Can nitrate poisoning affect fish this way? I'm also not sure whether my test kit is the culprit as my tap water reads 20ppm which I believe is higher than it should be.

Sorry this post is so long. I'll add a photo below of the white fish and hope someone can help me. Red spot near to of tail, vein near bottom. A little hard to tell when there's already orange and white on the tail

Should I bring the fish back to school with me in the 20gal and do daily water changes hoping that that will help?- I don't plan on coming back home for another month and I don't want to place this all on my parents. The timing really stinks as we have had no problems with my parents taking care of them for the past 2 years while I'm at school.


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  • #2
First things first did you fully cycle the 40 gallon before moving the fish last month?

If you didn't fully cycle it...and moving filter media, gravel or anything from the 20 gallon will kickstart the cycle but doesn't complete it....the fish might well have suffered from an uncycled aquarium

  • #3
I don't think it's septicemia. Agree with the above poster. Also, instead of medicating, I'd increase the amount of water changes and the frequency as well. No less than 50 percent.

Hard to tell in the photo, but blood vessels in goldfish (especially ones with white tails) are perfectly normal. But a splotch of red or increase of it may indicate a problem. If this is the case, again, I think it's simply a water quality issue, and not septicemia.
Becca Stephens
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Tank was not cycled prior to the fish being moved but all gravel, plants, and filter media was moved over. I've set up my parents to change 10-20% of the water daily and hopefully this all clears up and passes over. Thank you both for reassuring me that it isn't septicemia as I'm sure most immediately fear the worst when it comes to their own pets.
  • #5
If you want to try an antibiotic, erythromycin should be your last choice. It's not absorbed from water and it's really only effective on Gram positive bacteria which is very rarely responsible for infections in fish.

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