Goldfish Sick - Helping Your Little Friend

As you sit there, you are thinking that owning a pet goldfish isn't the simplest of things. The old adage "prevention is better than cure" is especially true for goldfish. In a few short minutes you will learn how to prevent, identify and treat common illnesses and problems in a sick goldfish.

Imagine what it would be like if you could ensure your goldfish stay healthy and recover from illness quickly. That you could ensure their company for years to come, looking beautiful and providing a calming environment in your house or office.

Have you ever asked yourself: "Is my goldfish sick?"

First you must learn how to diagnose a sick goldfish. You must be aware that regular chemical treatments will affect the quality of your aquarium and are bad for the beneficial bacteria.

By constant daily observation, you will become aware of the normal behavior patterns and appearance of your healthy goldfish. Any sudden changes are considered to be significant so you need to intervene and take appropriate remedial action before your goldfish get seriously ill.

Here you have a list of typical signs of illness, that can indicate there is a problem with your goldfish:

  • appetite reduced
  • goldfish floating upside down
  • goldfish getting black on fins
  • goldfish sitting on bottom of tank
  • floating near surface or on the side
  • hiding away
  • not eating at all
  • gulping at the surface
  • moving slowly
  • red streaks

Sick goldfish alert!

Ask yourself these important questions and answer them truthfully:

  • Have you added new fish to the aquarium?
  • new fish can carry diseases and also cause a spike in ammonia levels, affecting the tank ecosystem
  • overcrowding can cause stress
  • faster-swimming fish get to food faster leaving the slower ones without food.

  • Have you changed their diet?
  • changes in diet and increase in protein can cause constipation and digestive problems. Common example is Swim Bladder

  • Have you been overfeeding your fish?
  • same as the previous question. Changes in diet and increase in protein can cause constipation and digestive problems. Common example is Swim Bladder

  • Has the water change suddenly and become hotter?
  • warm weather less oxygen. If there is a rapid increase in temperature white spot or Ich/Ick can occur. Any air conditioning or heating come on recently?

  • Are there any toxins or fumes in the environment?
  • if you have been painting, using glue or decorating your house, these can reduce the amount of oxygen goldfish get.

  • Have you moved, knocked the aquarium or handled the fish recently?
  • this can frighten and stress your fish. Stress can make your goldfish sick

  • Did you do a water change recently?
  • untreated water or different temperature upsets the Nitrogen Cycle

  • How many fish are affected?
  • if all your goldfish are affected you need to do a 40% water change and check the water quality for ammonia, nitrates as well as the filter

  • Is the problem sudden or has it persisted for weeks?
  • if sudden then it's a water quality problem. Otherwise, it may be parasites or bacteria

  • Have algae levels dramatically increased?
  • algae use up too much oxygen

  • Has there been any noise pollution?
  • loud music, slamming doors etc. can stress the fish

  • Is there anything different you have done?
  • anything you changed in feeding, maintenance...write it down and send me an email

By answering the above questions, you can find the main cause of what got your goldfish sick. These can also help you prevent future problems and help keep your fish healthy.

As time passes by, and you sit comfortably in your chair, you will learn how to treat the two most common fish diseases.

Goldfish Swimbladder is probably the number one disease goldfish owners have to deal with. They usually wake up in the morning or come back late from work and see their cute little pet floating upside down at the top of the tank like a balloon.

What's going on is that a goldfish has small air sacs that it uses to dive down, submerge or come back up at the surface. When the digestive tract gets blocked or goldfish is constipated, then the sacs become over-inflated and your goldie loses control.

Primary causes of Swimbladder are water quality(high ammonia or nitrate levels), thermal shock, over-feeding or receiving a poor diet lacking fiber. Notice how ignoring some basic goldfish care rules can make your goldfish sick?

Treating Swimbladder sickness is easy, you just have to:

  1. stop feeding your goldfish for 2-3 days
  2. this allows the gas to pass trough
  3. gradually start to feed them again
  4. only feed vegetables and fruit in small chopped-up quantities
  5. after a week or so, your goldfish will be healthy and happy again

Another very common diseases is Goldfish Ich/Ick or white spot and it typically occurs when goldfish water is compromised. Also if the temperature drops or increases rapidly.

Your goldfish will start to itch against the side of the tank and get very stressed. The white cysts on its body are actually live parasites. The main problem here is that soon these will drop off in the water and release hundreds of free swimming parasites and that find goldfish to "hook" on to.

Before these start dropping off in the water and make all of your goldfish sick, here is how you deal with Ich:

  1. do a 40% water change in day #1
  2. vacuum the gravel and get rid of all white spots that may have dropped off the fish
  3. buy a malachite green formula from a pet shop(and follow instructions) or use common salt. However using too much salt can have negative effects. Add a teaspoon every 1-2 gallons
  4. maintain an even water temperature, do a 20% water change in day 2 and 3. Add 3 teaspoons of salt to replace the one you removed during the water change
  5. after 3 days your goldfish should be fine

Finally, to keep your goldfish happy and healthy as ever you need to follow the basic goldfish care rules:

  • don't overcrowd your tank
  • a 10 gallons of water minimum per goldfish are required
  • do a weekly water change to keep ammonia levels low
  • maintain an even temperature
  • don't add other contaminated fish or plants in your aquarium
  • don't overfeed your goldfish
  • feed your goldfish a varied diet(fruits and veggies)

Love to you,

Useful Articles

Goldfish Diseases | How To Diagnose, Cure And Prevent
Goldfish Water | Quality and Maintenance
Feeding Goldfish The Healthy Way | Benefits and Tips
Goldfish Behavior - Male Goldfish and Female Goldfish Characteristics

Image credits to: jelene @