Shubunkin sinks to bottom of pond, can’t sit upright

Vyllkatt

I need help as I think my Shubunkin finbaby, Ghost, and other Comets is sick :(

Tank (Its an Outdoor pond)
What is the water volume of the tank?
- About 120 litres. About 23cms deep.

How long has the tank been running?
- Mum built an outdoor pond from scratch, and put 7 comets in it the same afternoon. Then I bought a Fantail and a Shubunkin the same day. Water was treated before fish were added. All fish were kept in the plastic travel bag in the pond to adjust to the water temperature before being added to pond, bag water and all. A floating plant (water weed) was added. I bought river stones and 2 ornaments they can hide in from the pet store, rinsed them with boiling water before adding to the bottom of pond. Added some natural quartz stones from out property to the pond after washing them in boiling water. It has now been 16 days since the pond was built.

Does it have a filter?
- yes, mum put in tge pond an old filter from a small indoor tank my uncle gave us.

Does it have a heater?
- it didnt, until a couple of days ago. So about day 14 of the pond after being built. It is the heater from the same tank as the filter was in.

What is the water temperature?
- Im unsure what it was prior to 2 days ago as that it when I bought a thermometer to monitor it. Currently, with the heater in, it is about 14-15c during the day. Drops to 11-12c overnight. It is nearing winter where I live. And during the 16 days of having the pond there have been very cold nights, down to about 4c degrees. Im unsure what the water temperature would have got to then.

What is the entire stocking of this tank?
- 5 Comet goldfish (2 have since died and 1 seems ill? since day 1 of pond), 1 Fantail goldfish, 1 Shubunkin goldfish (also ill).

Maintenance
How often do you change the water?
- have not done water changes since the pond was built. Only added some more conditioned water to top up water level.

How much of the water do you change?
- None.

What do you use to treat your water?
- Day 1 of pond: treated tap water with Marine Master water ager. API quick start. API algaefix aquarium algaecide.
- Day 14 of pond: added in Splosht cleans water naturally.
- Day 15 of pond: added in API pond melafix antibacterial remedy for koi and goldfish. API aquarium salt for freshwater fish.

Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
- we dont have a vacuum, the pond was built 16 days ago.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
- no, we didnt know to do this to a fish pond or tank.

What do you use to test the water?
- Tetra easy strips 6-in-1. Complete all in one testing.

What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: unsure ?
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: inbetween 7.8 - 8.4
total hardness: inbetween 150-300
total chlorine: 0

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish?
- once a day.

How much do you feed your fish?
- about a pinch, mum feeds them with my young son.

What brand of food do you feed your fish?
- API goldfish flakes.

Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?
- no.

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
- 4 days now.

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
- 4 days ago (day 14 of pond) for the Shubunkin, 1 goldfish who was ill at the same time has died and another is ill.

In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
- my Shubunkin, Ghost, sunk to the bottom of the pond. Its been moving its fins at times, gills are moving and its been opening its mouth at the same time. It cant sit upright and is flopped on its side. If I pick it up from the bottom and hold it lightly so its upright. It tries to swim and wiggles a little like its trying. But when I let go it sinks like a stone back to the bottom. When I got it it was very active and blowing bubbles.

Have you started any treatment for the illness?
- took to google to see what to try. I bought Aquarium salt for freshwater fish and gave the 2 ill fish (Comet and Shubunkin) a dip for around 25mins last night (day 15 of pond, and day 3 of illness). Ghost was a little more active in the salt water. It tried swimming but was mostly on its side at the bottom. The Comet wasn't doing great in there barely moved its gills. It perked up a little when placed back in the pond. But has since resumed its sedentary state this morning. Ghost is still at the bottom of the pond not really moving fins much, is moving gills and opening mouth.

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?
- I dont know. Mum bought 7 Comets from a different pet store, she said the staff got them out of a bottom level tank that had not much light source and was not as clear as the upper Commet tanks. The Fantail and Shubunkin I got from my regular petstore. Their tanks are clean and well lit and the fish were active.

How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?
- went from being very active, eating and blowing bubbles to listless, lethargic, not eating? and sunken at the bottom of the tank on its side. Gills and mouth constantly moving. I noticed that on my Shubunkin, the dots it had on its gills have moved. I thought it was a cute pattern. Which is why I bought it. It had 3 white dots on one side of its gills. After the salt dip treatment last night. I noticed today that there it one dot and what looks like another white blob near the edge of its gills. If I look behind the gill while it opens I see the white blob. Now my suspicion is that its something more sinister than a pretty pattern of dots.

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
- it started when the smallest Comet wasnt doing so well (sinking to the bottom of the tank, listless, not eating) and died over night. This was about day 7 after the pond was built. Up until then they all were very active and eating. On day 12 another Comet and my Shubunkin were ill. Same symptoms, sunk to the bottom of the pond, lethargic, listless, gills moving fins moving a little, Shubunkin opening its mouth with each gill movement and the Comet died over night on day 14. On Day 14 I added the large packet of Splosht cleans water naturally. My Shubunkin is still ill, and now another Comet is ill on day 15 both have the same symptoms. I read salt water dips can help ill fish. So I got aquarium salt and let them soak in a bowl for about 25mins. The Comet stopped being active and even barely moved its gills in the salt water. Shubunkin was a little more active, trying very hard to swim around flat on its side only to sink again to the bottom and not move its fins much, gills moved and its mouth opened each time with its gills. While they were in the salt dip. I added API pond melafix antibacterial remedy for koi and goldfish and API aquarium salt mix to the pond water. 25mins later I put them both back into the pond next to the heater over night. It is now day 16 and they are both still ill. Comet is listless and is either at the top or bottom of the pond, fins not moving much but gills are moving a bit. Shubunkin, Ghost, is at the bottom of pond, heavy, listless, lethargic, not moving fins a lot, gills still moving with mouth opening with the gills. If I hold it and support it upright with my hand in the water it tries to swim a little but as soon as I let go it sinks like a stone to the bottom. I noticed that the three white dots on its gills when I bought it have moved. One it still there, an the second dot sits near the edge of its gill. When it opens its gill I can see a white blob behind it. Ghost is a little more active at the moment, trying to swim but sort of rolling around or staying on its side. I want to save them and keep the others from dying off too. I just dont know what is wrong or how to fix it? I attached photos of the fish and pond and all the products/ food used. The photo of the fish tank is Ghost at the pet store. You can see the white dots and how they have now moved 16 days after arrival. Thank you in advance.
 

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Salem

120 litres is very small for even one goldfish especially a comet- they're the largest and can grow up to a foot long. Goldfish of all types are also notoriously messy in terms of how much waste they put out. If you read into the nitrogen cycle you will learn that fish waste creates ammonia which is toxic and deadly to fish. It's most likely that this is what is causing the issue. In a lightly stocked pond or tank of 120 litres you would need to do weekly water changes of around 25% but in something this over stocked you'd want to do two 50% water changes a week.
You're definitely going to need to get a test for ammonia and look into guides on how to do a "fish-in" cycle. Liquid tests tend to be more accurate than strips for future reference. If your local pet store has a product called SeaChem Prime I would recommend buying a bottle. It is basically a water conditioner except its extremely concentrated- 1ml treats 10 gallons of water. If you double dose Prime it actually detoxifies ammonia for 24 hours.

I know this is super scary and that we tend to immediately feel immense guilt upon learning something we may or may not have done could be the cause of any creatures death or illness. Know that it's okay and don't be too hard on yourself. Goldfish (and bettas) are sold in basically all pet stores with tanks and pamphlets and employees that give extremely outdated information that results in improper care. The fact that you're here now asking for help and trying to learn is significant. You're doing your best and though they have had a rocky start
 
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Vyllkatt

120 litres is very small for even one goldfish especially a comet- they're the largest and can grow up to a foot long. Goldfish of all types are also notoriously messy in terms of how much waste they put out. If you read into the nitrogen cycle you will learn that fish waste creates ammonia which is toxic and deadly to fish. It's most likely that this is what is causing the issue. In a lightly stocked pond or tank of 120 litres you would need to do weekly water changes of around 25% but in something this over stocked you'd want to do two 50% water changes a week.
You're definitely going to need to get a test for ammonia and look into guides on how to do a "fish-in" cycle. Liquid tests tend to be more accurate than strips for future reference. If your local pet store has a product called SeaChem Prime I would recommend buying a bottle. It is basically a water conditioner except its extremely concentrated- 1ml treats 10 gallons of water. If you double dose Prime it actually detoxifies ammonia for 24 hours.

I know this is super scary and that we tend to immediately feel immense guilt upon learning something we may or may not have done could be the cause of any creatures death or illness. Know that it's okay and don't be too hard on yourself. Goldfish (and bettas) are sold in basically all pet stores with tanks and pamphlets and employees that give extremely outdated information that results in improper care. The fact that you're here now asking for help and trying to learn is significant. You're doing your best and though they have had a rocky start
Thank you so much for the reply! I will have a look for those things tomorrow as it is after midnight here. We haven't had any more casualties yet. But they also arent getting "better" either. I hope they hang in there overnight.
 
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jtjgg

stay away from the algefix or any other algaecide. many fishkeepers have had mass fish die off after using most types of algaecides.

pond volume is too small, its only about 30g. those comets and shubunkin get to about 12" long on average. you should start thinking about buying a stock tank from a farm/livestock store. a Rubbermaid 150g would be your best bet for five of them.

the 110g should work too

was the filter from a cycled tank? you need to buy an API Freshwater Master test kit to see if there's any ammonia or nitrite. don't really need to worry about nitrate since there will be a bunch of algae pretty soon. algae is part of the natural ecosystem, they help consume nitrate and some other byproducts and wastes. you can manually remove some of the algae by hand if it gets overgrown.

4'C is about 39'F so its ok for goldfish, they survive in cold climates like Canada, and hot tropics like Texas, Florida, Brazil, Thailand, etc. although 23cm (9inches) is quite shallow. you want it to be around 60cm 24inches deep.
 
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Lakefish

I agree with what the others said. Treatment for illness is not likely needed unless you know exactly what you are dealing with. Use chemicals sparingly. Water changing immediately is the most important thing. You may need to add another or stronger filter or an air stone to get more oxygen in the water too. It looks pretty still in the photo unless you turned it off first!
 
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ValkyrieLips

Thank you so much for the reply! I will have a look for those things tomorrow as it is after midnight here. We haven't had any more casualties yet. But they also arent getting "better" either. I hope they hang in there overnight.

Never medicate unless you know what you're treating because as you've found out the hard way it can do a lot more damage than good. I'll be blunt, it's more than likely a water quality issue that you tried to remedy by dumping in medications and doing salt dips so they won't "get better" unless you learn how to properly take care of them. Starting with learning about the nitrogen cycle, doing big frequent WCs, if you're able to then get a liquid test kit, and rehome the comets if you aren't able to upgrade them to an appropriately sized pond/tank. If you're willing to learn they may still have a chance. Best of luck.
 
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Vyllkatt

Thank you all for the insight! I really appreciate it. I believe there is a shell pool under the lining of the pond my mum built. Would it be better to remove this so they have a bit more room too? The wooden frame around the pool is square, but I will measure it and calculate the water volume. Mum built the small pond specially for the decking so she can sit out with the fish and is rather attached to it. Would one or two fish be comfortable in there? If I find a larger outdoor tank for the others. The small pond without the shell under it would be about 156L and 25cms deep.
stay away from the algefix or any other algaecide. many fishkeepers have had mass fish die off after using most types of algaecides.

pond volume is too small, its only about 30g. those comets and shubunkin get to about 12" long on average. you should start thinking about buying a stock tank from a farm/livestock store. a Rubbermaid 150g would be your best bet for five of them.

the 110g should work too

was the filter from a cycled tank? you need to buy an API Freshwater Master test kit to see if there's any ammonia or nitrite. don't really need to worry about nitrate since there will be a bunch of algae pretty soon. algae is part of the natural ecosystem, they help consume nitrate and some other byproducts and wastes. you can manually remove some of the algae by hand if it gets overgrown.

4'C is about 39'F so its ok for goldfish, they survive in cold climates like Canada, and hot tropics like Texas, Florida, Brazil, Thailand, etc. although 23cm (9inches) is quite shallow. you want it to be around 60cm 24inches deep.
The filter was from an old tank that my uncle gave us. The filter and heater are in the outdoor pond. The filter has a tube sticking up with several jets shooting out water under the surface. There is a current that streams around the pond to the opposite side where the floating plant is. I just measured the tank it came in and it is about 22L, a small tank. Should I look into getting another filter as well?
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When I was looking at it the tube fell out and is creating more surface movement now. Should I leave the tube off?
 
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Lakefish

Removing the liner probably won’t make a significant increase in volume, so don’t bother.
In my opinion you could keep a couple of the fish in there until they get to, say, about 10cm long. Keep in mind, fish grow in mass much more than in length—e.g., a 10 cm fish is much more than twice the mass of a 5 cm fish, and will produce a proportionally greater amount of waste. So my 10 cm number is kind of a guess. Better to err on the side of caution!
Regarding your filter, yes, the increased surface agitation looks better! In an outdoor pond with plants, biofilm/algae, and not too many fish (less than a typical indoor tank!!) generally you want to have the volume of the pond pass through the filter 2-3 times per hour. The pump should have a lph rating stamped on it, so a little math will tell you if you need something more powerful.
 
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jtjgg

the extra 40L is not going to be significantly more when you really need a total of around 400L.

and the 2 cm is also not significantly deep enough for long freezes during the middle of the winter. also it would be easy for birds to eat them. and without know your location, hot summers can really heat up a small pond like that and kill the fish too.

the filter is really small. you should plan to get a 400L pond that is around 60cm deep and a comparable sized filter.
 
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Vyllkatt

thank you, I am trying to find a larger area to be about to put them in. It's been difficult, but I have been told to go to an aquarium store and they should be able to help with the filter etc. I live in Australia and it is coming to the end of Autumn/ start of Winter. So the water wont freeze.
I did the water tests just now and the results from the Master Test Kit were:
pH: 7.6
Ammonia: in between 0ppm - 0.25ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
 
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