goldfish emergency › Forums › gfe FORUM › Diagnose Goldfish Symptoms and Treat › Ammonia poisoning
jaxxiMemberMarch 17, 2016 at 7:29 pmPost count: 7#16815 |
Ammonia poisoning Sensitive shubunkin
Our shubunkin may have been poisoned by ammonia. It was not a well fish when we adopted three goldfish 9 months ago. They had been kept in poor conditions for a while. He developed swelling on his side soon after arrival and some raised scales and was quarantined and treated with maracyn 2 on the advice of his previous keeper (I have no prior fishkeeping experience). He recovered after 2 rounds of the antibiotic. However, two months after he began to develop pus filled boils on his side – the same side that was swollen before. They would swell, burst, then heal quickly. I treated the tank with melafix when the boils burst. He did not seem sick or bothered by the boils.
3 weeks ago I noticed him often catching bubbles at the surface. At the same time, the water had lots of small debris in it. I realised the filter had become blocked, and cleaned it out. But the next day he was listless and off his food and when I tested the water the ammonia was up to 1 and the pH was 9. On advice I did a 75 percent water change then another 50 percent a few hours after, and two more 50 percents the next day. He seemed perkier at first, but then became more listless, swimming round and round the tank in a daze, fins clamped, swimming head on into the sides of the tank. Blundering into the other fish. Not responding – i thought he’d gone blind! And still eating bubbles. Literally. He was pooing them too. Occasionally he would eat one mouthful of food, but he seemed to not be chewing normally. He has transparent scales on one gill and it looks much redder than normal. His chin also looks swollen.
Yesterday I installed the new filter and suddenly he seemed his lively old self again (though still not eating) but today he has deteriorated suddenly. His side is very swollen, and this evening became very agitated then started bottom sitting and gasping. The symptoms are exactly as they were when we first got him.
If you have more than one fish, do the other fish have any symptoms?
No. The other two are absolutely fine. Though anxious about their housemate.
Are there currently medications or treatments in your fish house water? If so, what are they?
Melafix and Pimafix. Garlic water. Chamomile. I have no Maracyn but have sent off for some goldenseal.
I am in the UK so cannot buy your products. I have a copy of ‘the art of goldfish’ and several mature aloe plants.
VenusParticipantMarch 17, 2016 at 9:07 pmPost count: 133
Are you testing water parameters? Obviously you’re testing pH, but you had said the filter was having issues, and the pH was at 9 ppm? Was this a typo? What are your pH levels in the tap and tank; let’s compare the two. Also, do you know your tank temps?
I’m also wondering if you understand the nitrogen cycle? Do you test other parameters, ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, GH, KH and pH too? If not, pick up a master test kit, so we can figure out just how healthy your water is
If a fish is blowing air bubbles or pooping air bubbles, it’s eat air. When you say the fish is eating bubbles on the surface, it’s trying to get oxygen
Do any of the fish hang out at the surface or close to it? If not, check inside the fish’s mouth for an obstruction, so we can check that off the list
Is your tank open so the surface is exposed to fresh air?
When we see a fish clamping the fins to the body, this is an indication the fish is being burned, or has been burned. Ammonia and too high of a KH will burn fish, causing this symptom. If your tank water is moving much, the ammonia could have been hanging like a cloud in one area, and burned just the one fish, while the others got off easy
When you perform large and frequent water changes, this can cause a spike in the cycle, creating the extra ammonia. Another thing that can happen with a large water change, fresh water is often filled with supersaturated gases. These concentrated amounts of oxygen can suffocate fish. These are the tiny bubbles that cling to the side of a glass of water if you’ve ever noticed them. They’re caused by pressure, and need to be removed from fresh water being a water change is performed. We call them SSG for short. I work fresh water over by placing it in a five gallon bucket with a pump running now, but you can also work it over manually. To test your fresh water for SSG scoop it up in a clear glass and let it sit for a spell. Do you see these bubbles clinging on your fish or the sides of your tank?
If you don’t have a master test kit, pick one up or take a sample of tank water to the pet shop for a free test. Ask for specific readings
If your fish was burned, it will still be in pain long after the ammonia was removed or the KH lowered, because it’s been burned
Recommend the aloe treatment to heal and sooth
I wouldn’t use the meds or quarantine again. What the fish needs is excellent water, and that’s what we’ll try to give it
Lower your tank temps to reduce the pain and also slow the metabolism of the fish, at least for a few days, and until we find out what’s going on. The test results will help us figure things out. Goldfish become dormant in cold water, so any time you have an issue, lower the temps by scooping tank water up in a pitcher, chill it in the fridge or freezer; pour in slowly and all around; refill and repeat until the water is at 64f or a little lower is okay too. If you don’t have a thermometer, that’s okay, lower the temps until the water feels really cold to touch. They’re cold blooded, and so are the friendly bugs
jaxxiMemberMarch 18, 2016 at 4:14 amPost count: 7
Thanks for your help.
He is lying on his side this morning, very pale, just about breathing.
I understand about the nitrogen cycle and SSG
I have a master test kit, but it does not include KH and GH
Parameters today are ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 10-20 ppm, pH 7.6
I am currently lowering the tank temp by using worked over dechlorinated water (seachem prime) and have some water in the fridge. I may move him to a hospital tank as I have an illness which makes it physically hard for me to work with large amounts of water.
My water does have SSGs but ‘an expert’ told me not to worry about them, and told metheir effect on fish is an internet myth.
Still, when I water change, I use a python hose and run it in splashing as much as possible. Then I adjust the spray bar so it breaks up he surface.
But all this seems immaterial at the moment as I suspect we are losing him…
Thank you for your help. I am not sure what to do. He looks like he is on the way out. I want to fight for him but not if causes him more pain.
VenusParticipantMarch 18, 2016 at 7:03 amPost count: 133
Yes, there’s a good chance the fish is dying; so sorry. It’s painful to watch, but from his passing, let him teach us more, so that we can give more to our other fish. That’s how I look at it. No guilt. Feel bad if you knew what to do and did nothing, but you’re doing everything
If performing the water changes in the large tank is difficult, then yes of course move the fish. If it survives we’ll make sure the water stays healthy. Use tank water so as not to shock the fish
Give your fish a salt bath if it’s not too late when you see this. Aquarium salt is best of course, but if you don’t have on hand, add one tablespoon of regular salt to a cup of water water to dissolve. Add to one gallon of water and mix it up. Place the fish in the bath for three to five minutes and swim it around. If the bath helps to revive the fish, repeat as needed
The threat of SSG is very real. One of our administrators just recently lost a 13 year old fish when he went on a trip, leaving his family to care for the fish. They didn’t work the water over, and the fish suffered a painful condition we call bent position, also seen with nitrate poisoning. The fish died
jaxxiMemberMarch 18, 2016 at 8:55 amPost count: 7
He died! But luckily I had been to the shop and got Hydrogen Peroxide and I brought him back to life using the syringe technique in ‘the Art of Goldfish’!!! I had to work on him for about an hour and thought he’d gone several times, but refused to give up (taking my cue from resus methods we use on humans). Once he was definitely alive again he lay on my fingers, which I gently moved whenever he forgot to breathe. It took him about half an hour to get the hang of it again.
His hospital tub currently has 6 gals of worked-over, dechlorinated, OO’d and salted water. The water is cold. He is lying on his side in some main tank sand breathing regularly at a rate of about 1 breath every 3 seconds. I am filling the tub gradually with fresh, cold water. Another gallon or so and I will be able to turn the filter on, which is seeded with sponge and gravel from the main tank.
Spex is obviously a very poorly fish indeed, and we may lose him yet but it won’t be for want of trying.
Not sure what to do next, though!
My most urgent question is should I continue to add salt and OO to the new water I am filling the tub with?
Or should I dilute those down now by adding just plain Dechlorinated worked over water?
I have brewed some green tea and have some aloe vera glop doing its thing in the fridge.
Thank you so much for your support.
jaxxiMemberMarch 18, 2016 at 10:15 amPost count: 7
2:30 I gave hima cup of green tea as had seemed to flatten out a bit. He responded almost immediately, breathing more quickly and starting to move a little.
2:45 Just now he had a little swim! He is struggling to right himself, but managed it in the end.
3:00 He is bottom sitting – a bit wonkily – rather than side lying now, and moving every few minutes.
VenusParticipantMarch 18, 2016 at 10:53 amPost count: 133
Wowza…look at you go. I’m impressed. I don’t often recommend using the flush due to the fact most people think it absurd, or can’t bear the thought of handling the fish
I’m not sure how much salt you’re adding to the water, but the amount I recommended, one tablespoon is okay for a one gallon bath or to add to 10 gallons of tank water. I don’t think the full treatment is needed; why risk it
Most important during this crises is reduced temps
Did I describe the pitcher method of oxygenating water? Push a pitcher deep into the tank filling it; pour it back out and repeat for 10 minutes. You can use a small pitcher; doesn’t have to be big
Use the H202 one ounce per 10 gallons of tank water by premixing with a gallon pulled from the tank; two to three times daily
jaxxiMemberMarch 18, 2016 at 5:13 pmPost count: 7
Sadly, he died a few hours later. When I was sure he had gone, I popped him into the main tank so the others could say goodbye. Miraculously he revived for a minute, and died with his tankmates stroking him gently with their fins. It was very moving.
Fish are so amazing.
Thank you for being there. Not many people understand how precious this little being was to me, but I think you do.
VenusParticipantMarch 18, 2016 at 6:41 pmPost count: 133
How thoughtful of you to take him home. I’m not sure I would have thought of that…such a tender scene you described. I would love to have one of these moments on video for the world to see. It’s not a surprise to us. We all have similar stories. We know that goldfish are capable of strong emotion. We know they have concern over their sick tank mates, and miss them when they’re gone. We also know just how you feel 😥
You gave it your all
AnonymousInactiveMarch 18, 2016 at 8:30 pmPost count: 104
So sorry about your little guy. You did a great job of nursing him and I agree, so sweet that you let him go home in the end. That’s amazing that he revived for a moment! I lost one of mine recently, after days of trying. My sympathies…
jaxxiMemberMarch 19, 2016 at 11:40 amPost count: 7
Thank you so much for your understanding, both. It does make it easier.
I am finding two things tough today:
Spex’s housemates are missing him even more than I do: he has been with them morning noon and night for 6 years, whereas I only had the pleasure of his company for 9 months. It’s hard to explain how I know this interpretation of their feelings is not anthropomorphism. Their sadness is in their movements, which are so eloquent.
Klaus Comet keeps gazing over to where the hospital tank was, and snuggling up to Rita Telescope – not something he normally does. He is doing none of his usual ‘dances’ and Rita is not spurning him like she normally would. Their baby, Pudding Comet-Telescope is only a 4-month old mite, but he is darting into all the spaces left by Spex’s absence. I am hoping the big fish will transfer their shoaling attachment to him now.
The second tough thing is that people started joking around when I announced that I have lost a goldfish. Not my close family, who know how much I loved Spex, but my friends. Not to my face, but on Facebook.
Now, if I had lost a cat or a dog, there would be outpourings of sympathy. But it doesn’t work that way for a fish.
I know most people can’t even begin to understand how you can form a powerful attachment to a being you can’t pick up and cuddle, a creature which is supposed to have a ‘4 minute memory’ (what rot!) and is not credited with emotion. If they could have seen the demonstration of fishy joy when Spex came home after 3 weeks in hospital last year, I’m sure people would change their tune. But they have no concept of fish as anything other than living eye candy, so I can’t blame them – I just answered ‘Thanks for trying to cheer me up guys. I proper loved that fish, and wish I could have saved him’.
Venus, I am interested in what you said about a video of that moment when Spex’s friends gently brushed him with their fins. It did cross my mind fleetingly – I am a video artist so I am wired to ‘capture’. But I was too wrapped up in the moment to look around for my phone. I often wish I had video’d that joyous return too – it is something I replay in my head quite often. I think such moments, if shared, might be interesting to people who have never thought of fish as sentient beings.
Now that I am getting to know fish better, I can try and make sure I have my camera primed and ready when something emotive happens.
Off now to unwrap some new plants and put them in the quarantine tub. They will definitely cheer Klaus and Rita up a bit. I must order some more too – I pulled Spex’s favourites and buried them with him, with some kiwi and his favourite flakes to help him on his way to the great pond in the sky. He was a blue and yellow fish, and I have buried him among bluebells and primroses.
VenusParticipantMarch 19, 2016 at 7:54 pmPost count: 133
Understandable. I’ve experienced the same several times in the past; why didn’t I capture that moment? Too wrapped up in it to think of it
Pay no attention to those that poke fun or take light of what you consider to be a serious thing. Not everyone is going to get it, but it does tell you a little bit about those people. They don’t have to like fish to respect your feelings. I don’t share my fishy feelings with people outside the site just for these reasons
It sounds like you’re a pretty savvy fish keeper, but I am concerned about your unknown parameters. I see in your extended profile (thanks for filling that out) that you’re using coral in your substrate. Coral adds to carbonate mineral levels, better known as KH. Although we need healthy levels of KH, if you have a healthy level in your tap, these levels could climb too high. If you remember in a previous post, I said ammonia and KH poisoning has the same symptoms
Let’s test KH and GH as well to make sure your water quality is more than okay for your fish. The best medicine is prevention
jaxxiMemberMarch 20, 2016 at 5:47 amPost count: 7
Thanks. I am well on my way to becoming ‘crazy fish lady’ among my friends – and proud of it! I don’t feel very savvy at all – there is so much to learn! – but since they arrived in July I have bred one (who we call Pudding as she was found in a pudding basin on the kitchen windowsill on an aquarium plant cutting) and lost one. So there is experience building.
Their real owner, who is away indefinitely, wanted to keep the coral but I have never been happy with it, as it does not fit with the pond environment we are trying to reproduce. I have already exchanged 1/3 of it with river sand, and have pea gravel arriving tomorrow, which I will exchange bit by bit over the next few weeks.
I have unearthed a KH test among a box of marine bits their owner left – it’s in date so I will do a reading later.
I will shop for a GH test later too. What exactly does that measure?
VenusParticipantMarch 20, 2016 at 6:12 amPost count: 133
Oh good; you mean the coral is intact? Just pull it out if this is the case. I’m also glad to know you’re removing the sand. This was probably the source of the internal infection in the fish; the boils you described. Sand is beautiful, and we often get a lot of argument against removing it, but if you think about it, there’s no sand in a goldfish’s natural environment. They’re river fish
Sand harbors bad bacteria
Good to know you’ve come across a KH kit. Test your tap and your tank so we can compare the two
I’m delighted you’re going to stick around. :yahoo:
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