Sick Goldfish, Need Fast Pond Advice

Discussion in 'Pond Fish' started by greengoddess, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. greengoddess

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    Hi all. There is a 600 gallon goldfish pond where I work, and the fish - especially the larger ones - have suddenly taken really ill. It appears like swim bladder disorder, but since they aren't fed pellets (or anything else for that matter, which I don't exactly agree with...) and it's not contagious, I feel it's a symptom of something wrong with the water. I don't have a lot of experience with outdoor ponds, so I'd really appreciate any advice. Hopefully, I'm able to link to the short video I took this morning of them and their setup.

    I went home for my API master test kit to work after scooping out two more dead fish; parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates (is the latter weird for a pond...?) The pH is 8.0. The pond has been established for years, with the fish overwintering, and eating only algae and whatever else they scavenge. My boss told me this has never happened. He recently added a biological booster product, which wiped out a great deal of the blue-green algae - not sure if the timing is coincidence or not. Today, I treated the pond with a broad spectrum disease product (I'll have to update with the brand as it's at work and I'm not.) I also added a fountainhead to aerate the water as I feel that the wall-mounted spitter wasn't sufficient. The fish actually perked up a bit a short while after the meds and oxygen.

    I wanted to do a 50% water change, especially since one has never been done, but he asked I treat without doing so, simply because I'd have to do this during hours when a hose could pose hazardous to some of our clientele (upscale place - fountains, planters, antiques, etc.)

    I return to work in two days, and will dose again if needed. Is there anything else I can do?

    PS I'm still trying to upload the video. If I'm successful, it'll follow in comments section. Thanks!
  2. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    Ugh. I can't figure out how to upload a video clip... maybe I can't? Anyway, they're listing around like zombie fish, with their backs exposed, which is causing something that looks like fin rot, along with white scales. Poor babies :(
  3. SM1199

    SM1199Well Known MemberMember

    I'm not a pond person, but I'm curious to see how this plays out. Do you know what the biological booster product was? I've seen in so many cases that chemicals that kill off algae (which in this case, your product did even if it wasn't the intended effect) also create issues in the fish. I don't know exactly why, but they always seem incredibly not-right immediately afterwards. The chemical might directly harm fish, or might harm something else that is then detrimental to the fish. Either way, I've also heard that oxygenating the water helps the fish a ton, which also lines up with what you're seeing here. Perhaps the chemical somehow binds with oxygen in the water.

    In the case of an indirect effect, the pond may have been in a good balance and when someone came along and messed up that balance, I can see the potential for issues. Algae are at the bottom of the pond food chain and killing the algae may have massively detrimental effects on the beings that rely on it, and in turn all the other living things above it. This could be food-wise or oxygen-wise.

    Just an idea. I can't shake the feeling that it had something to do with that biological booster. I'm also interested if they recently used any fertilizers or pesticides on the ground anywhere near the pond; run-off into the pond may have drawn these chemicals in and hurt the fish. Just another thought.
  4. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    killing off that much algae caused a depletion in oxygen.

    its possible to have a complete cycle. is there dirt or substrate at the bottom? if you do a water, try not to disturb the bottom of the pond as that is where the denitrifying bacteria live. plus it will release toxic gases.
  5. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    I'm really leaning toward the addition of the bio booster, too, as the culprit. It *is* a fish-safe product, but perhaps he didn't measure correctly (very possible, as when I asked him the volume today, re: meds addition, he didn't know...) I'll post after work Wednesday with the names of the products used, both by him and by me.

    I would hope everyone who works with me is aware enough to not use chems anywhere near the pond (and we don't use fertilizers and such as a general rule,) but I'll find out if anyone felt the need to spray glyphosate in the area.

    Do y'all think supplemental treats would be good for them once this is over? I know lots of people let their outdoor goldfish subsist on algae and scavenging, but as an aquarium person who spoils her fish with a varied diet - it just doesn't sit right with me. But again, I'm not at all knowledgeable about this topic.

    Do y'all know if I can post video? If not, I can at least post a still of the biggest, sickest fish. I feel so bad for them.
  6. SM1199

    SM1199Well Known MemberMember

    I don't know how to post videos to be perfectly honest, but you can always put it up on Youtube and put the link here. Please share any pictures you have. I agree with Skavatar, he said in more understandable terms one of the things I was trying to get at... Oxygenation is the issue after you kill algae. I'm not one to know about goldfish nutrition, but since they're herbivores and love to scavenge, I'm plenty sure they're doing just fine the way they are now. Adding more outside sources of food could create too much nitrogen in the otherwise self-sustaining pond and throw the balance out of whack. Goldfish get fat off of air, lol. Just my opinion.
  7. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    Here is a link to the video showing the situation pre-meds, pre-aeration. I'm not sure Biggie, shown at the beginning, will make it through, but hopefully this helps. Thanks again.
  8. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    Good point. There's no substrate like dirt or gravel that I'm aware of; it seems to be an accumulation of leaf litter and such. I was told there are water lilies, but I've yet to see them emerge. There's a mass planting of horsetail reed at top, with another water plant behind - not sure what it is, but it grows on fat rhizomes and has spear-shaped leaves ( I snapped off a few, and currently have them in my quarantine tank to see how they do when submerged - also to catch any errant pond snails I may have missed.) Other than that, there's a small amount of water sprite (?) There used to be a glut of the latter, which disappeared practically overnight along with the algae. That really should've tipped me off then that something was amiss. Hopefully, the fountainhead will remedy a multitude of issues.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  9. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

    water lilies are usually potted, so there'll be some bacteria in there. i also see the reeds and other plants by the water fall, there's plenty of bacteria in there too.

    the pond itself had almost no surface agitation, the fountainhead will help.
  10. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    Sorry it's taken me a few days to share the products used - I get super busy at work, so I forgot to take pics. Anyway, see attached pics. Also, everyone is doing well. I've had only one more death, but surprisingly, it wasn't Biggie; he's doing great! I ended up treating the pond only twice; because I can't do a water change, I didn't want a crazy chem buildup... The fountainhead has really been the game-changer; I just wish I had paid more attention prior.

    Attached Files:

  11. hoseki

    hosekiValued MemberMember

    Just saw this post.
    At the beginning of the video, there were a few fish swimming in very strange way, looked like shaking there head or body heavily. Another bigger fish was floating on top. I don't think they have a swimming bladder problem. Seems to be either fluke or parasite attack. You may net them out and check if they have any fin rod or ulcer.
    Is your area cold in winter and they just passed through it and temperature slowly picks up? What is the size of your pond in terms of L*W*H? How long has this pond been built? How often do you do water change and how much water have you changed? How much food are they normally fed and how many times do you feed? What is the flowing rate of the pond? Any river rock inside the pond. Looks like there is quite a bit of plant after the waterfall. Are they being planted together with all the original soil that comes with the pot? Can you draw a sketch cross-sectional diagram showing where the waterfall is and where the pump sits in the pond?
    Regarding your water test, I don't think it's correct. If it is correct, your pond filtration may or may not be matured yet. For ammonia and nitrite test, once you add in the chemical, you have to shake it a bit and let it settle down for 5 min. For nitrate test, you have to shake the bottle 2 for 30s before using it. Once you add in bottle 1, shake it a bit. Then add in bottle 2. Shake the whole bottle for 1 min and again let it settle for 5 min. Put your test tube against the chart and matches the colour of your test tube with the chart. I am not likely to believe that nitrate is 0. Best if you can redo all the test again but make sure you follow the proper procedures when doing water test.
    I've never use the MicroLift Spring/Summer Cleaner but I don't think it is the cause unless that product is expired. Other than goldfish, seems you have other shubunkin or koi in that pond as well. From what you said, it seems that the pond has never done any water change. That's the most common problem for this type of water garden. People think that the pond is big enough and there are plants in the pond and it should balance out by itself but personally I don't agree with it. It's a matter of time that when there is too much rotten stuff plus fish poop that accumulates in the pond bottom and lack of oxygenation, plus very minimal circulation or a lot of dead spot in the pond that stimulates the growth of those bad bacteria. it just can't keep the balance and that triggers the outbreak of infection. In most cases, the bad bacteria attack the fish and open up the wound on the body causing secondary infection whereby you will see parasite or fluke attacked. Spring season is the most dangerous time for all the ponds especially you have cold winter. Fish immune system is low in cold water. In the springtime, bad bacteria will start active way earlier than the fish immune system being back to normal and that expose all the fish to bacteria attack in the springtime. Believe that is what is happening with the pond.
    What you can do now is to net out all the fish in the pond and put them into a quarantine tank best with some kind of filtration system. Mix some of your pond water with the fresh water. You may put in a few of the plant from that pond so as to speed up the cycling of filtration system. Do not feed them during the whole treatment period. Dose BDST for 3 days with daily 25% water change. Do not add salt or keep salt level under 1.5% for BDST to function normally. Make sure you add in dechlorinator each time before adding in fresh water from tap. Then dosage Prazi Pro as instructed and leave it for 7 days. Cover up the tank so as to black out from light. Do not do any water change during the 7 day period. MAke sure you don't have any carbon in the iflter or your tank. This can help to reduce the medication needed for treatment. If my assumption is correct, there is a problem with your pond water. No matter what medication you put in under this circumstance, it just won't work.
    During the treatment perio
  12. hoseki

    hosekiValued MemberMember

    Sorry. Just accidentally posted the reply without finishing it.
    During the treatment period, you drain the whole pond and power wash it. Clean up any dirt or soil in the pond bottom. Actually when planting in the pond, I would suggest removing all the soil that comes with it and replace with some kind of planting sand. It would keep you pond much cleaner. Of course it would kill all the bacteria inside the pond and you have to restart the whole pond again. That is why the best cleaning time should be in late spring when water temperature are still low and the bacteria are still not ready yet.
    Hope this would help resolving the problem.
  13. hoseki

    hosekiValued MemberMember

    Regarding the algae problem, you can use Nualgi Ponds to treat your pond. It is a natural product. The product itself is actually some kind of deep-sea algae that starts working way earlier than any other algae. It consumes all the nutrients in water before the other algae start working. This would starve all the other algae. The dosage is 1ml for 1000 gal of water and it works really well.
  14. scarface

    scarfaceFishlore VIPMember

    It definitely sounds like it's the "biological booster" being the culprit. Funny the ingredients are all chemicals. No bacteria listed as far as I can tell, unless it's listed elsewhere. When it comes to fishkeeping, whether indoor or ponds, it's best to follow the rule of less is more. More specifically, avoid maintenance products that contain chemicals. I firmly believe the only chemicals one should ever use regularly are de-chlorinators.

    As far as fish not being fed, it's perfectly fine for an outdoor pond. And like you said, it's been established for years. You can start feeding pellets, but don't overfeed as goldfish are, above all else, algae and detritus eaters. Low nutritional value, but they compensate by eating large amounts, which is completely natural foraging behavior.

    Many health problems with goldfish being kept in aquariums, is in fact a result of a misguided belief that they should be fed a lot. The problem lies in the fact that commercial fish foods are very rich compared to what they would naturally forage for in a pond or in the wild. I normally feed my fish once a day, sometime twice and only what they can finish in a minute or less.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  15. OP

    greengoddessNew MemberMember

    I just checked back and wanted to give an update. All is well. I still believe the algae-killing "bio-booster" was the culprit. Since treating (judiciously) with the broad spectrum for two days, and adding the fountain head, there's only been one death (which could have been caused by a feral feline huntress who hangs around after closing.) Thanks for the input, everyone.
  16. bentaz

    bentazNew MemberMember

    Glad to hear it's all coming good.
    I would suggest you add some pool salt to the pond. Searching aquaponics sources of the net will give you exact (max) ratios that will help your fish but not harm your plants, but I would just Chuck about a kg (2.2lb) in there.
    Salt is the only chemical I add to my ponds, I don't even use declorinator instead only do small water top ups straight from the tap.
    I would advise adding the salt regardless of the fact the fish seem to be on the mend, it is a great preventative measure, helping to boost the fishes immune system and helping to retard the growth of nastys in the pond.