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Goldfish Corner When All Else Fails

By:  Anita Hovanesian, BAS, GFSA
Published in The Daphnian, February 1991

More often than not, conventional treatments for Goldfish diseases fail leading to loss of our golden friends.  In my many years of raising and spawning goldfish, I have developed some unorthodox treatments which do work providing that the animal is still strong enough to withstand the treatment.

During early spring, when the ice first melts on my ponds, I have many times found large, beautiful fantails floating helplessly with their abdomens protruding out of the water.  I am not clear as to the reason for this, but suspect that a very cold winter, combined with numerous gasses in the water which were unable to diffuse through the ice, are the prime cause for the “floating syndrome”.  These fish, if not brought inside, will suffer frostbite on the exposed part of their abdomen and die.

I bring them in with the same pond water in a pail and add an air stone.  The temperature of the water is usually just above freezing, therefore, it has to be brought up very slowly.  I hold the fish upright in the pail and by hand “swim” it along every 10 minutes or so in order to help the animal regain its balance.  Many times these fish have been struggling so long outside, that they are just plain exhausted and welcome your help in righting them.  I’ll even sit there and hold them upright for 15 minutes at a time.  After several hours, when the water temperature has increased, one may observe the fish swimming upright for a few seconds - this is a sign of recovery!  Now it’s time to put out the lights and let him rest overnight in the pail.  If he is put into a tank too early, he gets trapped in corners and around filter intakes - leading to death overnight.  Don’t worry - he’ll be fine in his pail as long as he has enough aeration.

If you are lucky, the next morning you will find a very rambunctious, upright fish just waiting to get into a nice big tank with cool water.  The temperature must be the same as in his pail because fluctuations have been known to cause irreversible Dropsy in fish “heated up” too early in the spring.