Poisoning OUR Fish

Poisoning our fish without knowing

Poisoning our fish without knowing? A new goldfish keeper or even an experienced one may be unaware of the dangers. Knowing what these dangers are; what’s in the water your fish swim in can prevent poisoning

Ammonia poisoning

It starts with ammonia poisoning; the first toxin to form in the nitrogen cycle. Ammonia is created from waste, and where you find goldfish and Koi you will find a lot of waste. By nature, both fish are constant grazers, and this is how we should feed them, small amounts throughout the day. If you’re feeding your fish healthy amounts, a healthy amount of waste is being produced

Ammonia burns fish, causing them to fold their fins tight against their bodies. The burns appear as white marks that darken as they heal. Serious burns open the door to infection, but most fish that suffer ammonia poisoning will die from oxygen deprivation. The sensitive inner gills become inflamed, keeping oxygen from being absorbed from the water

Nitrite poisoning

Nitrite is the second toxin to form in the nitrogen cycle. This toxin is just as deadly if not more so. Most goldfish aquariums are enclosed, and the water movement is insufficient leading to low oxygen levels. Robbing the blood of oxygen, symptoms appear long after the fact. Tiny blood vessels appear in patches on the body, however, more prominently on the tail fin. Water low in oxygen and high in nitrites is a deadly combination

Nitrate poisoning

The third and final toxin to form is nitrates, closely related to nitrites. Both are created by living organisms and both rob the blood of oxygen. The good news is, nitrates are easily tolerated in goldfish, Koi and humans alike in low amounts. Nitrate poisoning causes fish to press to the bottom in an effort to relief itself of the pressure caused by the toxin. The deeper the water, the greater the relief. In it’s final stages nitrates cause the fish to curl to one side. The condition brought on by nitrates is similar to the bends; a painful and deadly condition that deep sea divers succumb to when surfacing too quickly

Poisoning our fish

Water treatment poisoning

Fish lucky enough to survive the cycle may be poisoned by water treatment. A lot of fish keepers do not know that water treatments only convert toxins, making it insoluble. Fish will not be able to absorb treated toxins into their blood stream. The fish keeper doesn’t know that the toxins are still present, and will show up on a test result. Thinking they haven’t used enough water treatment to eliminate the toxins, they use too much day in and day out

Chemical poisoning

Thoughtlessly, many goldfish keepers use chemical sprays, furniture polish and room fresheners, however, these are just a few products we use daily in our household chores. If you were hair treatment, face or hand lotion, all it takes is one touch to transfer the product to your hands

Poisoning our fish

You may not realize it, but fish medications are chemicals, and dangerous ones at that. They are commonly abused in the industry. The chemicals found in these medications often push fish over the edge. Real medications are prescribed, not purchased at pet shops. Most sick fish are suffering from infection caused by bad bacteria or parasites, encouraged by poor water quality. Most sick fish are living in sick water

Metal poisoning

Fish lucky enough to survive being medicated, may be poisoned by the metals in their freshwater source. All metals in specific amounts are deadly to fish. They’ve evolved to live in water with these very same metals in their natural habitat, and can easily tolerate the safe levels found in our drinking water. Our fish come from the rivers in China where mercury is in abundance. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about metal content for our fish’s well being and our own. Most city water is filtered and treated, making tap water safe for our fish and our families

Poisoning our fish

Well water should be tested for the three toxins created by the cycle, bad bacteria and metals commonly found in your region

Concerned about metals in your tap water? Use water treatment specifically designed to convert metals to a safe form

Mineral poisoning

It’s unusual, but fish can be poisoned by magnesium, calcium or carbonate minerals. Some regions are dangerously high and some dangerously low, the latter being more common. An area that is rich in limestone or close to the sea, carbonate mineral content may be dangerously high. No matter where you live, it’s critical to test general hardness (GH) made up of calcium and magnesium and carbonate hardness (KH) made up of carbonate mineral

Another mineral that could poison fish is phosphorus. This mineral is commonly used as a suds compound in detergents, shampoos and other soaps which can lead to high levels in our natural water reservoirs. Some of us have higher levels due to natural mineral levels indigenous to their region

Obtain a water report to learn more about your water. The following is a list of what should be considered as safe levels in our drinking water
Ammonia (chloramines) or chlorine 4 ppm
KH 90 to 140 ppm
GH 200 to 400 ppm
Phosphorus 0.005 to 0.05 mg/L
Copper 1,300 parts per billion
Mercury 0.002 mg/L
Lead 15 parts per billion

Algaecide is a common substance used in ponds to eliminate algae. The label may read safe for fish, however, many a fish has died from these so called safe products. Their use should be avoided. Ponds with slow water movement often develop green water algae or string algae. Both forms keep oxygen from entering the water. Out of ignorance, some pond keepers belief algae to be scum, when it’s actually the end result of the nitrogen cycle, consuming the toxin, making the water safer for fish, while also providing a nutritious food source. A healthy stocking level with controlled feeding, along with water changes is all that’s necessary to control the miracle plant

Salt poisoning goldfish

Salt is the most abused substance in the industry, and being freshwater fish, goldfish and Koi have no tolerance for high or consistent saline solutions. Many people are led to believe that keeping a consistent level of salt in their goldfish house will keep bad bugs away, but bad bacteria quickly build a resistance to it, while the fish’s organs become more and more stressed, eventually failing. Our fish get all the salt they need to experience good health if the carbonate mineral levels are healthy

The fish in the  below above was over salted by the breeders, and all it took was a light salt tonic to push it over the edge. Does this mean salt is dangerous to use on freshwater fish? No. Salt contains chloride that improves gill function, increases the protective slime coat and destroys bad bacteria as well. Most fish will easily tolerate and benefit from a period salt tonic, and many lives will be saved with the full salt treatment. It’s unfortunate that the instructions included on the back of aquarium salt boxes recommend dangerously high amounts; too much of a good thing

poisoning our fish

Poisoning our fish

Read the 10 Steps to Goldfish Koi Care

Catch 22, using water treatment to convert toxins and or metals. Neither is actually safe for our fish. Most cities filter metals along with other mineral and miscellaneous substances from the water with insignificant amounts remaining. A little of each is okay; the lesser of two evils

Poisoning our fish

You may find your water report online, but if not, call your water department, and ask for a report. If you’re confused about the results, feel free to call and talk to them. Most cities are very obliging

If your fish is suffering from organ failure, raise KH to high end of the comfort zone; 120 ppm

Use Dandy Remedy

Treat organ failure with same methods as described here Goldfish Dropsy

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Author: Brenda Rand