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Tank Emergency; Gold fish is red, fish are lethargic, danio has ich

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Jul 27, 2019
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Tank size: ~5 Gal. US
pH:7.8 (This is what it has been since I started measuring)
ammonia: >0ppm (just the slightest hint of green, not enough to put it at .25, but more than 0)
nitrite: 0 ppm
nitrate: 40 ppm
kH: Unknown
gH: Unknown
tank temp: 80F

Fish Symptoms (include full description including lesion, color, location, fish behavior):
Common Gold Fish:
Has been more lethargic over the past 2 days. Normally he has been always active, but he was sitting on the bottom of the tank more. He could swim normally when bothered, but seemed to just want to chill on the gravel. Fairly suddenly I noticed a redness under his skin around the eyes and fins (looked almost like what I would imagine internal bleeding would look like. Very red and under the skin). His eyes started going milky. After QT I noticed a long white stringy thing that looked like it was coming from his head/gill area. I also noticed he is favoring one of his side fins, just barely moving the other.

Dwarf Gourami:
He started being lethargic today. I noticed him resting on the gravel. The very front of his top fin is kinda laid down. He can swim normally when he wants to

GloFish Zebra Danio:
1 of the two GloFish started laying on the bottom today. I noticed that his outermost layer of skin seems opaque and his coloration is not as distinct. I also noticed small white dots on his skin

Volume and Frequency of water changes:
Water Change every 2-3 days, 2 gal. At a time. I also usually gravel vac 50% of the tank at every change.

Chemical Additives or Media in your tank:
Just a whisper filter with activated charcoal and a sponge for bacteria

Tank inhabitants:
1 Common Goldfish
1 Dwarf Gourami
2 Zebra Danios
3 Ghost Shrimp
1 Mystery Snail

Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration):
Marimos (3-4 weeks ago), bubbler chest ( 3-4 weeks ago), the ghost shrimp, the mystery snail (both about 1-2 weeks ago with no QT)

2 zebra danios (1-3 weeks ago no QT. Same purchase as the invertebrates ). Bought in response to a zebra danio that had died after a few months. 1 new fish died within a week. I found it on the filter intake with no eyes, missing fins, and just generally looked like a shell of a fish. He had been sticking more to the surface and wasn’t as active as the others.

Exposure to chemicals:
The only chemical I normally use is the water conditioner from Tetra. They have since been treated with more that I will outline later.

Treatments so far:
Goldfish was moved to a 2 gal. Bucket with 50% treated tap water and 50% tank water within minuets of noticing the redness. Aeration is provided but no filtration currently. Treated water with manufacturer recommended dose of aquarium salt, Pimafix, and Melafix (all from API). My current plan is to dose as recommended daily for 7 days, doing 20-30% water changes before the dosing to keep water clean (siphoning out fish poop). After 7 days I will reassess to see if he looks good enough to join the rest.

All invertebrates were moved to a 1 gal. Glass jar with gravel and fake plants and aeration. No medical treatment, just didn’t want to dose them with salt.

Regular tank with 3 fish:
75% water change with heavy gravel vacuuming. dosed with recommended dose of Pimafix, Melafix, and aquarium salt. All marimos and decorations were removed. Still has filter and aeration. Plan is to dose for 7 days and then do water change and reassess.

** Before goldfish was removed, I noticed the tank was at 82F (heat wave in Texas, this is still colder than my room and far colder than outdoors.). I saw 3 fish on the bottom and thought maybe the problem was that the tank water was too hot decreasing oxygen. I went ahead and dosed out some water conditioner in the tank and put ice in a net and drug it along the top to melt the ice and cool the tank. Tank cooled by maybe 4-5F. Right after I finished doing this was when I noticed the redness of the goldfish. I don’t know if this could have anything to do with the problem.**

I know they need a bigger tank, I have a 40 gal that is in the process of being cycled for them ( no ammonia, still high nitrites and starting to see nitrates). I know I should have QT the new fish but I didn’t have a second tank. I would really appreciate any help or advice on what to do. I really love these guys and would hate to see my Glub Glub (goldfish) die. I can try to get some pictures when I get back home in an hour or so.

I also noticed some white stuff growing on the tank behind the filter. I was like a fine spider web that was attached to the glass and flowing with the water. I scrubbed this off. I don’t know what this was or where is came from.
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Other things to add:

I had been lax in my water testing (about a week give or take a few days), but ammonia and nitrites were never high. I was never lax on my water changes tho.

My water company uses chloramine not chlorine. Could this ammonia cause problems? I never noticed gasping for air at the surface for any of my fish.

The filter always has flowed water, but the pad is fairly congested with extra algae that Glub Glub (gold fish) like to pull of the Marimos. I swish it in the water I pull out of my aquarium every week or two.


Blue Dwarf Gourami:

GloFish Zebra Danio: (one closest to the chest is the one with ich)

Temporary Habitat for invertebrates:

Goldfish: (cant get clear picture of issue without placing him in something glass)

The Future home:

Should I put the gold fish in the regular tank so at least its filtered? I’m dosing both tanks with the same stuff.

Will the antibacterial medication kill my biological filter? I don’t have a second cycled one yet. I could do a massive water change in my big tank and put them in mid cycle if that’s better than no cycle from the meds.

I am going to also get some clove oil tomorrow because I heard its the best way to humanly euthanize fish. How would I know if my gold fish goes beyond the point of no return? I would hate to have to put him down, but I certainly don’t want to make him suffer more than he has to.

I was planning to feed 1 time every day or two. Flakes for main tank, soaked pellets or defrosted peas for the gold fish. Is this a good plan?

I am going to test all tanks for ammonia in a sec and I’ll update with those readings.

I can barely sleep worrying about these guys, so any advice is really, really apriciated!


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It could be a combination of ammonia poisoning due to high pH, and possible whitespot. The red on the goldfish is normally poor water quality (ammonia) and if left in poor water for too long, it can turn into a bacterial infection or the fish dies from ammonia poisoning.

If you can post a clear image of the danio with spots, it might help us work out if the fish has whitespot or excess mucous.

I would probably drain the big tank completely and refill it with dechlorinated water. Then put the fish and inverts in that. Then treat the big tank with salt. Use 2 heaped tablespoons of salt for every 20 litres of tank water. The shrimp and snails should be fine with salt.

Feed the fish once or twice a week and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a couple of weeks. When you do water changes, you will need to add salt to the new water before adding it to the tank. Keep using salt for a couple of weeks.

If the danio has whitespot, then raise the water temperature to 30C (86F) and keep it there for 2 weeks. The high temperature will kill the whitespot parasites.
Increase aeration/ surface turbulence if you raise the temperature so you maximise the oxygen levels in the water.
It’s really hard to get a good picture of this guy, he want to be as far from my iPad as possible LOL.

He does have some white in his stripping that is normal, but the ones that look like raised bumps are what I’m worried about.

I have a python coming in tomorrow, so If the big tank can wait till then, that would be ideal. If not I’ll get a water hose to drain it and it will be many trips with a 2 gal bucket to fill it.

If I can wait on the big tank, should I add my gold fish into the small filtered tank until then? I can’t really raise the water temp easily because I was waiting on getting a heater till closer to winter, but hey its one amazon click away if I must. If I want to raise the temperature, should I isolate just that fish in the small tank?

As far as the whole dechlorination goes, would it be all right to turn off the filter, cut the flow to the filter, fill the tank, dose and stir, then turn back on the filter? Should I put the smaller filter in the big tank once I move them to help keep the biological bacteria up, or since its been dosed with Pimafix and Melafix is it toast anyway? I also have a 1 gallon jug of a aqueon water conditioner and tetra aqua safe. Is one of these better than the other?

Thanks so much for your input Colin, you’ve been a life saver (possibly literally) ever since I joined this fourm.
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The danio does not have whitespot. It looks like small raised lumps but they appear to be in rows. I have no idea what it is.

It's not whitespot and you don't need to raise the temperature so don't bother about a heater yet.

It is preferable to dechlorinate any new water before it's added to an aquarium with fish in. However, in an emergency situation, you can turn the filter off, drain the tank and refill it, then add dechlorinator and aerate it for 30 minutes before turning the filter back on. Then add the fish.
If you don't want to do the big tank, then gravel clean, drain and wipe out the inside of the small tank and refill that with dechlorinated water. Then put the fish back in there.

Pimafix and Melafix do not affect the filter bacteria, but you do need a filter and aeration in the tank when using them.
So I think I’ll do the small tank tonight. I think ill move all the fish into a bucket temporarily to do the cleaning, and then I will add them back after. I assume all I need to do for wiping the sides is a clean cloth with dechlorinated water. I’ll do the big tank tomorrow.

This does bring up a question tho. I had always heard that for water changes using a python (direct from tap to tank), you simply dosed the entire tank before adding water and then add in the water slowly while ensuring circulation. Is this not the case? How else would you do water changes on large tanks besides a large RO system?
To clean the inside of the glass, use a fish sponge (anything that is clean and safe to go in the tank) and wipe the glass down. Then gravel clean the tank. You just want to wipe the slime off the inside of the glass before gravel cleaning and water changing it.

I don't use Python gravel cleaners and I don't add straight tap water to tanks with fish in because it eventually goes bad and you kill everything in the tank.

For big tanks I used big plastic rubbish bins (storage containers also work) and filled them with water and dechlorinator. I aerated the water for 30 minutes or so while I was draining and gravel cleaning the tank. Then I used a water pump and some hose to pump the dechlorinated water into the tank. If you don't have a water pump you can just bucket the water back into the tank.
The rubbish bins were used purely for the fish and not the trash.
This does bring up a question tho. I had always heard that for water changes using a python (direct from tap to tank), you simply dosed the entire tank before adding water and then add in the water slowly while ensuring circulation. Is this not the case?
Yes you can do that. While it may not be ideal it is much better than not doing water changes.
Death sucks, man.

I did everything for the small tank to get it clean and fresh. The pink one with the spots didn't make the move in. I did my best to match temperature and everything, let all the water sit with aeration for 20-30 minutes, and netted every one in.

Soon after he was having issues swimming straight. I chocked it up to swim bladder and just reduced the bubbler to reduce turbulence. Within 10 minutes he was on the surface and I gave it another 15 minutes of no gill or mouth movement before I decided he was a gonner.

The gold fish is still looking terrible and I half expect to find him belly up by morning. There was definitely a parasite that came out of him, I'll post pictures tomorrow.

I just can't help feeling like this is all my fault. Fish that have been in an aquarium for months don't just up and die like this unless I messed up. I guess this is kinda like farming and you just have to accept that death is a part of it, but it still hurts.
Update for today:

The Dwarf Gourami is the lone survivor.

I found the gold fish dead this morning and the last zebra danio got trapped between him and the filter intake. I freed the danio, but he looked like he had swim bladder disease. I figured there probably wasn’t much I could do but wait. He died 7-8 hours later.

Should I keep the dwarf gourami in the 5 gal for now so treatment is easier? He still seems to want to only chill in a corner and shows a little interest in feeding. If it passes close by, he’ll eat it, but he’s not going to hunt anything down. The top fin is still collapsed a little at the front.

Is it possible he’s just lonely and bored being in a tank with nothing but rocks?
What water conditioner do you use and what dose rate?

I wouldn't treat the gourami with anything because we don't know what is causing the problem.
I use Tetra Aqua Safe. I haven’t switched water conditioners the whole time I have had these fish, its all from that same bottle. I dose it at roughly 22 drops for my 2 gal bucket (not quite filled to the top). Dosing isn’t alway accurate tho, sometime I would turn the bottle and a whole lot shoots out in a stream. I always assumed that more doesn’t hurt so I wouldn’t try to guess at how many drops the stream was, I would just start at 1.

I was just going to keep dosing with salt, but if its not best then I won’t. At least now he is playing in the bubbles from the aerator going up and down. Any thoughts on why his fin is folded?

Note on the goldfish:

That little white thing was the parasite ( i think) that I saw coming out of his gills. It has a little leg coming off of it that’s about as thick as a hair. How much would this have contributed to his death?


I just ran water tests and I’m seeing ammonia Looks like its a little above .5ppm. I don’t know why this is the case, but I figure I’d better do a 50% water change to help get things where they should be.
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The most common cause for clamped/ folded fins is stress and poor water quality.

I have no idea what the white thing is but it doesn't look like any fish parasite or insect larvae I have seen. It might be a bit of plant matter or something foreign from outside the tank that fell in and the fish picked it up.

You can add a bit of salt but I wouldn't add chemicals/ fish medications.
Bubbles (the dwarf gourami) is still going good. I swapped 50% of the water last night and I just checked for ammonia, nitrite, nitrates.

Nitrites were zero, and nitrates were 5ppm. Ammonia is what worry's me at .5ppm. As a side note, that is the same ammonia concentration as is found in my tap water. This would suggest to me that the biological filter is impaired.

Is there anything I can do for this? My big tank has the ammonia to nitrite bacteria looking good, but the nitrite to nitrate bacteria isn't quite there. Would he be better off in that big tank If I 100% water swapped it and let the bacteria get the ammonia in check before adding him in?
I would probably drain the big tank completely and refill it with dechlorinated water. Then put the fish and inverts in that.
That is the way to go. More water will dilute the ammonia / nitrite and it will build up slower. You still need to keep up with the water changes.

Put the filter from the small tank into the big tank as well as its own filter. RIght now every little helps.

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