What's wrong with my fish?

I have three fish in a 10 gallon tank. One black moore, one calico fantail (both types of goldfish) and as of two days ago, one algae eater. I don’t know the actual species, but it’s about three inches long, dark grey in color, and has that big round “sucker” mouth.

So last night, I noticed the two goldfish seemed a bit lethargic. This morning, the black moore is alive, but lying on the bottom of the tank covered with these little white spots, and the calico fantail is floating around, but is fairly limp looking (the colring makes it hard to see if he has spots too!)

So what the heck is going on? Is this the dreaded ick? Is this treatable?

Any help for our smallest family members would be greatly appreciated!

Yeah…little white spots are a good sign that you’ve got “Ick”.

There are plenty of solutions that can help clear it up…I just hope it isn’t too late! :frowning: Check with your local pet store, and explain the situation to one of their friendly employees. They’ll know what’s best for your pals.

Best of luck to ya! Your fishies are in my wishies! :smiley:

Eh, need more info.

  1. How long have you had all these fish together in this same tank?

  2. How big are the goldfish?

  3. Exactly what kind of algae-eater is it? Is it what’s known as a “pleco”? Has it got a HUGE round sucker mouth and a big dorsal fin with spines? Or is it a small round cigar-shaped thing, like a skinny pinky finger, with no big dorsal fin? That’s an “otocinclus”.

  4. Have you got a tank heater?

  5. What kind of filtration do you have?

  6. What kind of food are you feeding? How often? How much?

  7. Last, and most important, question. What changed?

Fish don’t normally “up and die” all at the same time just “because”–nearly always it’s because something changed in the tank. Did you do a big water change? Did you do any water change at all? Here in Downstate Illinois our winter and spring tap water is notorious for being pH of about 9.9, because they add extra lime to counteract the cloudiness caused by heavy runoff from agricultural areas.

Did somebody “help” you by feeding your fish extra, or did the can of food get spilled in the tank sometime within the last 2 days or so? That can cause a big ammonia imbalance.

What I’m saying is, ick is frequently a secondary effect, a by-product of poor tank conditions. The ick spores are always present in the water, but a healthy fish’s slime coat will fight it off. However, when a fish is under stress because of poor tank conditions, then ick finds its way in, and you find the fish on the bottom of the tank in the morning.

Also, ick doesn’t usually strike so hard and so fast. Usually you have fish covered with white polka dots swimming around for days before they finally kick off.

So don’t rush right out to Petsmart and spend $$$ on ick remedies. First figure out what went wrong in your tank.

Of course, I’m assuming that you’ve had these fish together for a while, say longer than a month. If you just bought them last week, then all bets are off. During tank start-up, fish always die. It’s axiomatic.

Both plecos and otocinclus do better in tropical fish tank temperatures, say 75[sup]o[/sup]. So they’re happier and healthier with a heater. Goldfish, however, do better at 68-70[sup]o[/sup]. I have had very little success in keeping plecos and otocinclus together with goldfish.

Also, goldfish and plecos are all HUGE producers of fish waste (read: poop). If it is a pleco you’ve got, it’s possible that what happened was your filtration system was simply overwhelmed and has thrown in the towel. It’s no longer doing its job.

And goldfish are huge producers of ammonia through their gills. This produces a lot of stress on anybody else who shares their tank. Actually, after many years I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a waste of time and money to try to keep anything in the same tank with goldfish. Just resign yourself to having to scrub algae off the walls every so often.

Sorry to hear you’re havign this trouble.
This site: http://www.rk2000.com/disease.html gives some advice on goldfish disease, including Ich (which I agree it sounds like you have). Ich is curable, but you have to catch it quickly and often as DDG says there is an underlying cause (such as poor water quality, which stresses fish) that needs to be addressed.

However, Black moores are often considered a particularly fragile variety of goldfish, even by those who have good luck with other kinds of goldfish, so don’t blame yourself if it turns out that it’s too late to save him. Of course, I wish you good luck saving them.

Here is the info DDG asked for:
1-We’ve bought the two goldfish at the same time back in December, we added the algae eater about 3 days ago. He was the first to develop spots.

2-The goldfish are each about 3 inches long.

3-The pet store guy just called it an algae eater, but based on your description, it is a pleco.

4-We have no tank heater. (I thought goldfish were okay with room temp) The water temp hovers around 70 degrees F.

5-We have a ten gallon carbon filter, which we change every two weeks.

6-We feed them Wardley Total Goldfish Food. About 1/2 teaspoon, once a day.

7-Just before the spots appeared there were two changes: The addition of the pleco, and a change roughly 70% of the water.

We added the pleco at the suggestion of a pet store worker to help alleviate the pond-like conditions in the tank.

I just bought some liquid ick fighter. I’ve changed 20% of the water, removed the filter (as per the instruction on the ick stuff) and added it to the mix. Thanks for all the advice and concern, and I’ll post updates here as the situation warrants.

Try using Amoniacarb in the filtration system. It will also remove amonnia from the water. Carbon filter medium and amonnia clearing medium in the same filter sound like something you could use. Many treatments are aided by a higher water tempurature and some non iodized salt added, during treatment. Depending on your attachment to the fish. three new fish probaly cost less than the medicine.

Okay, what pops out at me right away is that your pleco was stressed by being put into a tank full of cold water. Is your pet store a specialty tropical fish hobbyist store, or is it just a general pet store? Most tropical fish hobbyist stores keep their ambient air temperature pretty high–it saves on having to heat all those fish tanks. So your pleco may have gone from a comfy 78[sup]o[/sup] to a frigid and uncomfortable 70[sup]o[/sup]. No wonder he’s stressed and came down with ick. Also, a couple of messy 3 inch goldfish are going to make tank water conditions less than ideal. So you dropped him into cold, dirty water (at least by the standards of his former home in the pet store).

Second point: what exactly do you mean by a “carbon filter”? Is it:

A. A hang on the back power filter, with a blue fuzzy pad glued to a hard plastic frame that you slide up and down? Or with a white plastic sponge that sits by itself in a holder, or a white fuzzy pad that fits over the plastic frame?

B. A plastic box that sits on the bottom of the tank, and you fill it up with pieces of charcoal and filter floss, and air from an air pump bubbles through it?

C. Other? Brand name? Physical description? Do you have an undergravel filter, too?

“B” is hopeless for anything bigger than guppies.

Next point: your oh-so-helpful pet store worker is only there to sell fish. Sorry. He gave you bad advice, IMO, to add an algae eater to your goldfish tank to control algae. The only thing that really controls algae is to have video fish. :smiley: Otherwise, just feed sparingly and, like I said, resign yourself to having to scrub the tank every so often.

Also: “pond-like conditions”? You mean the water itself turned green? This is not something an algae eater of any kind can help you with. Number one cause of green water–overfeeding. (see below)

A fish tank is an artificial environment. Aquarium books pay lots of lip service to the concept of a “balanced tank”, but in actual practice this is impossible. For one thing, the unfilterable waste products do build up and you do have to take out the bad water and put in the good water.

So you’re always gonna have algae. Just a fact of life.

Next point: a half-teaspoon of goldfish flakes is WAAAAYY too much. :eek: A fish’s stomach is about as big as his eye. Visualize, for each fish, enough food to cover his eye. And that’s it. Muster up every bit of self-control you have and DO NOT FEED THEM AGAIN. No matter how prettily they swim up to the front of the tank and beg. :smiley:

Next point: A 10 gallon tank is IMO not really big enough for 2 three-inch goldfish, especially fat ones like Moors and fantails. The “one gallon of water per inch of fish” rule only really applies to tropicals, with their skinny bodies and low waste output. Goldfish, as I said, poop a lot, and in addition they excrete ammonia (which is toxic) through their gills. If you don’t want to go to a bigger tank, I’d stick with 25 cent Wal-Mart goldfish, say 3 or 4 of them, each about an inch and a half long. They will last about a month or two, and then you go get some more. :smiley:

It is true that goldfish don’t tend to outgrow their tank, that they tend to stay the right size. (Nobody really knows why this is, but they think it’s something to do with waste products.) Anyway, this only applies when you start out with really small goldfish and let them grow into their tank. Then they’ll come to an equilibrium, with their own waste products, and the amount of food you’re giving them, and the frequency of water changes that you’re doing.

But just starting off with a couple of 3 inch goldfish, well, like you just found out, that’s about the total possible population for a 10 gallon tank, and when you added the pleco, you added HIS waste load to the equation and upset the equilibrium.

Next point: A 70% water change is way too much all at once. You should change only 10% to 25% of the water at any one time. Reason? It alters the pH and changes the equation.

So, what I would advise you is to decide what you want to do. I don’t think your little piscine menage a trois is going to work as is. The ick remedy, by itself, isn’t going to accomplish anything except make you feel like you’re doing something. You have to fix the underlying problem with your tank conditions.

Are the two goldfish still alive? If so, and if you don’t want to get a separate tank for the pleco, what you can do is scrap the pleco and just go with the goldfish. Or, you can scrap the goldfish and try to salvage the pleco by buying him a heater and doing 10% water changes every day (correcting for pH, of course) until he gets better. A 10% water change is only one gallon of water.

Or you could go buy a 20 gallon tank and a suitable heater, and a power filter one size bigger than recommended on the box for a 20 gallon tank, and try to salvage all three of them. Tricky, but possible. The only limitation is your wallet. :smiley:

How to humanely kill a fish: Scoop him out and put him in a Tupperware container full of tank water. Put a lid on it, so he doesn’t jump out, and put the whole thing in the deep freeze overnight. His metabolism will just go slower and slower until it finally shuts down.

Long term advice: I strongly advise you to get smart and start reading. Go down to the library and check out everything they have on fishkeeping. Also, the mind boggles at how many websites there are on fishkeeping.

http://www.google.com :slight_smile:

Coming soon to a supermarket near you: Mrs. Goose’s Mini Frozen Fish Sticks! :wink: :smiley:

So it’s been about a week. Here’s what happend:

The black moore died. He lived for about 5 days, and then just got weaker and weaker, so we quarantined him and he died a few days later.
The pleco and calico fantail, have recovered. :slight_smile:

Many thanks to DDG and all who posted suggestions. I’ve learned not to belive what the guy at Petco tells me about how to raise fish!