I have a 6 yr old goldfish.....not sure what type.....he has the plump body of a fantail, but with a single tail, and a big boof head. He has gradually developed an opaque covering over both eyes, rendering him blind from what we can tell, and more recently, on his left eye, that covering has formed what looks like a "proud" blister....almost completely spheroid, but attached to the eye covering. Any ideas?
Type of Animal: Goldfish
Age: 6 yrs
Name of Animal: Boof
Thank you for your question.When looking at diseases of the fish eye, we have to determine if the changes are internal to the eye and diffuse (in the vitreous) , or localized (in the lens) or external (corneal). That said, your history is suggestive of corneal disease therefore I will give you my thoughts on this. If you think the changes are internal instead, then let me know.
As I mentioned, your history is very suspicious of corneal disease. If this is the case, then there are a range of issues we must consider. Clouding of the cornea to the point that it is opaque is a very advanced and severe clinical sign. The change in colour is actually part of the cornea becoming edematous and swollen (it is the cornea’s equivalent of what happens when we slam our finger in the door). It does this in the face of inflammation and infection.
Therefore, it is a non-specific sign that most often can be seen if the water quality is poor (since the nitrogenous waste would burn the eye), but also if the fish has a poor diet (usually less an issue if fed commercial feed), if they have had a primary damage to the eye (lacteration or trauma), or if they have been infected with flukes (ie Diplostomum, less common) or a bacterial agent.
Now the addition of this blistering effect is very concerning. This suggests that there has been an ulceration of the eye (which would causing corneal edema) and that it has started to rupture. The bubble is the last thin layer of cornea holding back the inner contents of the eye from spilling out. Therefore, it is likely that this eye will rupture but it is a sign that things are at a critical stage and need addressing now.
Therefore, if you haven’t already, the water parameters need checking. Water changes need to be started if there is a problem with the water. Rather then salt baths, I would treat the tank (if you don’t want to treat the whole tank consider moving him to a hospitalisation tank). You can dose the aquarium salt at a dose of 1 tbsp per 5 gallons.
I hope this information is helpful. Please do let me know if you have any further questions. If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.
All the best,
Thanks for your reply.
The fish is currently in a reasonably large pond, with 11 other "mature" fish (3-6yrs), and around 50 youngsters, born this year. The pond has a good filter system on it, plenty of aeration, and gets flushed regularly. The only problem with the pond is a reasonable outbreak of string algae, which we are controlling by physical removal, and barley straw bundles in the water.
Boof is the only fish with this problem, so I don't think it is water quality.
The covering over the eyes is almost like a skin.....so whilst you could be right and it is corneal inflammation, I am not convinced of this.
Also, just in the last day or so, small white pimples, or warts have formed just on his head above his eyes. Do you think this is related, as the eye issue has been a gradual one over many weeks, or do you think this is something else again?
Thank you for the additional information.I would still advise checking the water, because sudden algal blooms can arise because of nitrogenous waste build up, as well as mucking it up more themselves once it starts to grow. I agree that one fish in many makes this less likely, we cannot be sure if Boof is the pond's sensitive soul.If you feel it is a skin, then we do have to consider fungal (ie Saprolegnia fungus) or bacterial (ie. columnaris) topical infection here. Any chance of getting a photo of this eye, so that I can see what you are seeing?Just to make sure, you don't mean like white sand on the skin, just because I don't want to start talking about what white warts usually are if he actually has Ich. If they are wee flesh masses or white wart like lesions then it sounds unrelated to the eye disease and I do wonder if you are now seeing lymphocystis. Lymphocystis is a condition where the fish is carrying a herpes virus that causes tumors to form. The infection is life long and they will be totally asymptomatic. That said, when the immune system is compromised (ie they get sick) then the virus is able to activate and cause problems, notable tumor formation.So, I would check the water parameters.If he is the only affected, separating him would be ideal.And if you can photograph this eye, it will allow me to get onto the same page with what you are seeing.Look forward to hearing back from you,Dr. B.
I have isolated Boof to a hospital tank, with broad spectrum antibiotics, and salt, and heater.....gradually increasing the temperature....currently 22degrees C....aiming for 24-26. I am trying to get a decent photo or two to send you.....hopefully will be able to supply tomorrow.
Good morning,That sounds grand. I know we are in different time zones (I'm in the UK), so I am not sure when tomorrow will be for you. Just want to warn you that I am out of my office after today til late tues, so if you don't hear right back from me, I promise I haven't abandoned you and will have a peek at the photo and answer you as soon as I return.Dr. B.
All ok.......my 10am is your midnight........will get back to you soon.
Ok, I will be off and on through today (and its only noon), so we have some time.Dr. B.
Are you there now? Suddenly this fish is in distress, and I am not sure what to do to help him. The "blister" ruptured earlier.....about 5 hours ago....and he seemed fine. He seemed fine when I fed him just a couple of hours ago. Now however, he seems in severe distress, floating to the top of the tank on his side.....but if I touch him, or hold him, he fights to swim away......he seems to be gasping, both mouth and gills.......any suggestions....please????
I had to step away but I am here now.It is strange that he didn't appear to show any change right after it ruptured.Though it does sound like there may be some shock issues with this gasping and collapsed appearance. As well, cannot rule out that there might be signs arising now if the eye has ruptures and the dirty (since no aquarium is sterile) water in the tank is now coming into contact with the optic nerve (which communicated directly to the brain. Whichever the underlying cause, this sudden change is not a good direction for him to take a turn.Did the eye maintain its integrity at that point or deflate?Have you up'ing the oxygen supplementation where in his tank since this started to facilitate breathing?
No change to the integrity of the eye, and haven't changed aeration, but we have a bubbler in there......He does seem to be always lying on his left side.....which was the side of the eye that had the blister........I have righted him a few times now, and each time he swims away, a bit all over the place, but settles on his left side, at the the surface.
That is interesting, since if the blister has ruptured but there is no change to the eye's volume then it makes these two events less likely to be related. In this case, try turning your water temperature back down (he could be sensitive) and increase oxygenation in the tank if possible (though they do oxygenate better at lower temps). It is possible that we are seeing shock lead to idiopathic swim bladder complications or it is possible that there is something internal that we have missed when focusing on the eye issues (especially if there has been an infection via the eye that has gone systemic) that has just pushed him over the edge.I'd say address the temperature and get back down at this stage + increase oxygen saturation of the water. Dr. B.
Ok, I'll try.....let you know what happens......obviously may be a couple of days for a response your end, so fingers crossed.
Good, do keep me posted.I will be able to read your posts via my phone (but its hard to type much on it), so I will see it.Just one more question about this blister, you aren't seeing loads of little bubbles in his cornea or hidden in his fins or tail?
Hi, morning here now, and no change to Boof. There are no signs of the bubbles you asked about......he's still lying on his left side on the surface, and that is how he settles each time if I touch him or hold him......he still seems to be in some respiratory distress.....gills and mouth working overtime. The eyes actually look better than they have for ages......but everything else has gone haywire!!!
I have just added the photos above.....they are in reverse order, with the top 2 being of the left eye, post blister-rupture......hope you can see them all ok.
Seems to me, for whatever reason, we are dealing with multiple problems...the eyes, Ich, and swim bladder issues......I've been reading up on that a bit today....is it possible that he has just gulped too much air? And if so, is it likely to fix itself, or is there something I can do? Poor bugger just keeps floating on his left side.
Good morning,Just before I have to be away.I completely agree that we have multiple issues here, and our eye is possible the least serious issue at the moment. I am glad there are multi-bubbles since that would suggest gas bubble disease. The white spots are lymphocystis (growths that are induced by viral infection). With the massive immune suppression he must be having is letting the virus reactivate and the grows are the result. So, they aren't something we can/need to treat. Its just a red flag that there is a sudden immune compromise (which doesn't fit with a chronic eye problem) and is likely telling us there is a serious acute infection that has gained hold with this recent stress of everything.The eye issue does look to be corneal in origin but the eye photos are a bit blurry (understandably) so I cannot really appreciate if there is an columnaris/fungi infiltrate as well. If you think looks like a growth, then hopefully your antibiotics will cover (ie kanamycin or erythromycin and anti-fungal vs. the fungal components).It is possible to imbalance the swim bladder could be related to the increase in respiration (from both the increase in gas in the SB as well as aerophagia will lead to gut distension to press on the SB as well). We can try the general SB treatment of using fibrous veggies (ie peas, spinach, cucumber) or Daphnia to help push things through the gut to see is this can give us some relief. That said, as long as he is eating (which may require help) and doesn't have to worry about bullies and competition, the SB will likely settle as we deal with everything else.As before, this sudden deterioration is quite strange as it doesn't fit with the ongoing situation. And while I cannot believe it would be the case (hence didn't mention it yesterday), is there any way that the tank he was moved in could have had water parameter issues (ie pH or ammonia....or even nitrites/nitrates)? Since these acute signs like they could be pH or ammonia shock, even those it wouldn't fit with a fish moved to a fresh hospital tank. So, if you can they are worth a check. If there is a problem with these, they obviously need to be addressed.I admit its one of these moments, I'd love to come over and just have a look at everything. Because the eye is an issue and it could have a bearing on a progression to systemic disease. But it just seems 'not quite right' and there are quite a few things bombarding this wee man all at once. So, check the water (to make sure), try SB therapy as I mentioned and supportive care with the other treatments are our best options.Take care,Dr. B.
General practice veterinary surgeon with a special interest in cats & fish.
Ok, thanks for all of that. Firstly the water.....I filled the hospital tank from the same source that we fill, and top up, the pond, which is from a bore water supply. Ph is around 7.4 to 7.6....I haven't tested nitrates (really need to get a test kit that does that), but as it was fresh water before he went in 48 hours ago, I have no reason to suspect a problem. Additionally, I do have another fish (Lucky), that I put in the hospital tank with Boof, for the benefits of the antibiotics, and he/she is having no issues.
Just to explain, Lucky got trapped by a fallen rock for about 4 months.....we thought he'd been taken by a bird! When my partner rearranged a couple of rocks that had fallen from the side of the pond, Lucky reappeared (and was re-named accordingly).....he was distended and odd shaped, probably due to the position he was forced into for months, and after about a month back in the real world, these distensions (is that a word?), or swellings, developed the "cotton wool" look, and some of the little fish started picking at these ulcers. Hence, I have been isolating him into a salt tank from time to time over the past couple of weeks. He has been showing improvement with this, but it made sense to put him into the tank with Boof 2 days ago, with antibiotic treatment, to try and cure him completely.
Lucky is doing well, but Boof is having all of these problems.
Secondly, the white spots......I haven't had to deal with this before, but I am still thinking Ich, from what I've read about it, because although Boof is showing several white spots, I have seen another fish in the pond, yesterday with one white spot, but today with 2.
Finally, again I have only read about this, though I have had fish with swim bladder issues in the past......I didn't know how to help them, and ultimately lost them.....3 in the past 2 years......so.......peas, spinach or cucumber? I normally only feed the fish with commercial goldfish flakes, and they get bloodworms as a bit of a treat. Peas, cucumber etc....do I feed raw or cooked?
I wish you could just pop over for a look too.....it would be so much easier. I have enquired about a vet specialising in fish here, but it is over an hour away, as the local vets don't really do too much with fish, and I am recovering from an operation on my arm last week, (an ulna shortening osteotomy), and so I am not supposed to be driving......nor do I want to put Boof through the stress of a long car ride....so thank you for your help with all of this.
Good evening,Goodness for poor Lucky, that is a serious imprisonment he underwent.Cotton wool would be what we'd expect with fungal or columnaris (which can cause eye clouding too) and the antibiotics are indicated (as well as an anti fungal agent). If you feel it looks like sprinkled sand rather then wee masses (which is what it looks like in the photo) then Ich might be present. And as an immunosuppressed fish, he'd be the most vulnerable but we'd possible see it in others (and it doesn't really explain the dyspnea--since the struggling to breathe is really the most pressing issue).Fibrous vegetable-wise, we usually used cooked shelled peas but any of them can be given raw or cooked as long as we are getting that fiber bolus into him.It would be nice if he could be seen since he is quite a strange one. But understandably there would be concerns both for yourself and Boof with traveling (though if you did decide to take him, you can give a wee bit of clove oil to sedate him a wee bit and decrease any transport stress.Dr. B.
Hi Dr B,
No real change here.....Boof is still floating, right side up......this is the most concerning to me. Any tricks to getting him to eat the veggies? I've tried cucumber, bok choy leaf, snow peas and garden peas......some of it he will refuse to eat, some he appears to eat, but then he spits it out....any suggestions?
I think the left eye is gone....it looks collapsed.....so I'm hopeful of saving the right eye, if we can fix the buoyancy problem.
As for Lucky.....isn't he just?
As an aside, here's another little miracle story for you.....
We have a black moor, called Blacky (I know...terribly original!) Prior to the pond construction, we had our fish in a couple of outdoor tanks. One evening while I was away (which happens alot when I'm working), my partner decided for some reason, to move a couple of the fish from one tank to the other. It was dark outside, so he just had the outside light....and having put the net in a couple of times, and thinking he'd missed the fish he was after, he flicked it towards the ground to shake the water drops off.....and heard a "splat"! Unbeknownst to him, in the dim light, Blacky had been in the net. He picked him up and restored him to the tank, but, long story short, after a time, Blacky lost one eye....I assume the side that hit the concrete.
He coped quite ok with this, though I was worried when we built the pond, and put him in there, that he may not see a bird coming. Sure enough, after only a few days, we couldn't find Blacky, and assumed the worst.....around the same time as we couldn't find Lucky! So we increased the amount of plant coverage and protection in the pond, and to our knowledge we haven't lost any(more) fish to birds.
A few days after Lucky reappeared(remember that was 4 months), my partner rearranged some more rocks, and OMG.....Blacky reappeared. He did have a touch of cloudy (one) eye, and what looked like grey, mouldy streaks all over him. All of this has since cleared up, after just a couple of salt treatments.
This fish has 9 lives, I am sure, and if I hadn't seen both Lucky and Blacky reappear after all that time, I would never have believed it possible.
So back to Boof....all things are possible, I hope.
Oh my goodness, your fish are quite tough we guys.Ok, so the eye was compromised with this blister rupture after all. What is the current status on the remaining eye?Has the breathing settled some?Is he eating other food, if not his veggies?Have you tried cooking the peas to see if he will take them that way?
Yes....it does look as they the left eye is compromised, but the right eye is looking reasonably good....still showing the covering, or corneal inflammation.....but with him lying on his side, so that eye is facing up, it looks better than when looking down on him from above when he was upright. Not sure if he can see out of it, but I think he can see something, as he sometimes seems to react to me approaching the tank.
His breathing has settled somewhat, as though he has come to terms with suddenly being unable to swim upright, or over the initial shock of the eye rupture.
He is eating his normal fish food, and I'm helping him with that by holding him upright........sometimes he is spitting it out, but I'm thinking he's probably just taken in enough......at least I hope he is not spitting it all out. As for the peas, I have tried both cooked and raw....I will keep trying. It is frustrating when you see him take 1, then 2, then 3, then watch while 1, 2 and then 3, get spat out again.
Ok, well shock could have elevated the respiration and now that we have confirmed that eye was likely compromised at that point then it fits more to our original concerns for the dyspnea. And it is a better sign if this is settling and he has managed not to be overwhelmed by the shock (which happens).In regards XXXXX XXXXX remaining eye, then currents treatments are appropriate for that. (though remind me what antibiotic you are using). And aren't a bad idea if there has been any chance that bacteria could have migrated into the ruptured eye (since the optic nerve is a direct link to get to the brain).In regards XXXXX XXXXX eating, if he is eating other food then that is good (though it means the reaction to veg is him being resistant to them). Usually it is persistence and patience to get them to eat veg. Some people advise in theses cases to stave them for 24-48 hours to let the GI hopefully settle and make them more amenable to eating a bit of veg that is offered. This is an option, but with all his others issues it isn't without a little risk. Alternatively, you could try and puree the veg and syringe feed him (if he will let you or you could even consider a low dose of clove oil to sedate him). We do sometimes tube feed fish, but do this usually takes an anesthetic (MS222).So, it might be worth skipping his next meal, seeing if he will take the veg to just see if we can get some into him. Otherwise, it might be worth seeing if we can get him to eat algae wafers (the food we feed pleco's) as this will be high fiber and can be sometimes be useful in these situations.Dr. B.
The antibiotic is Aquari-cycline.....main ingredient tetracycline hydrochloride.
I will persevere with the peas for a little longer, though I do have algae wafers, as I used to have a pleco.
If I do need to miss a meal or 2, I will need to move Lucky back to the pond, which is ok, as he does seem to have improved considerably....still a little "cotton wool" though.
Tetracycline can be effective for treating both their conditions (though I do usually treat with it in combination with minocycline at the same time), but if you aren't seeing much improvement after a minimum 10 day course, then consider Kanamycin +/- Acriflavin(for fungal).I would try the wafers, see if Boof is keen. If he is, then we can keep Lucky in that tank a bit longer since it sounds like we are making a dent in the that cotton wool (which is likely bacterial columnaris if its responding to treatment) but I don't want to give it a chance to recover and take hold of him again, if you know what I mean.Dr. B.41101.4420559838
I do know what you mean, and thanks....I will give the wafers a try.
We are only on day 5 of the antibiotics, so I guess early days yet.
I'll let you know of any changes over the next few days.
You are very welcome.Keep me posted :)Dr. B.
Yesterday I spent considerable time trying to get him to eat.....tried peas, and wafers, and even syringe feeding pureed peas......he spat everything out.
This morning, I am sorry to say, I found him dead in the tank. I know he was in a very bad way, so maybe this is for the best....at least he's not suffering anymore.
I would like to thank you again for all your help.....I don't think there was more we could do for him.
I am so sorry to hear wee Boof has passed on. You are quite correct that we were fighting quite a severe disease complex and that the deck was stacked against us. Still I do think you were able to do as much as we could for him, and he and the other mischievous wee fish are lucky to have you. I just suspect that it had just gotten past where our treatments could restore him and his resistance to your diligent feeding was less the ideal. Still its sad when we lose them, though you are right about him being at peace now.Please take care & all the best with your Houdini-fish (Lucky + Blacky).Dr. B.
Thanks Dr B.
We are so sad to loose Boof. Lucky, though, is improving every day, so I think I'll keep up a few more days in the hospital tank with him. Thinking of putting Goog in with him.....the other fish that showed signs of ich....2 white spots, with no more apparent in the pond anywhere....Also thinking of putting Blacky in for an "it can't hurt" sort of treatment..........this miracle fish has had yet another adventure!
Yesterday it rained all day here, so I fed the fish in the pond, but didn't linger, (or check who was visible and who wasn't).....today the rain had abated somewhat, so there was the ability to linger at the pond, and check on all the fish, as would be the norm......this morning I couldn't find Blacky.......I checked every hour or so, and still no sign of him. My thoughts were that he was either taken by a bird (Please no!), hiding under the log in the pond , where they all go for shelter, comfort, and sex, I think
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My other half came home, and we started pulling out some algae, and sure enough.....he came up with Blacky.....algae wound around his (one) bulbous eye!!!!!
Poor bugger may have been trapped for 2 days. Anyway, we cleared the algae from his eye, he rested an hour or so, and then seemed right as rain..........another of his 9 lives gone!
Do you see a problem with me putting Blacky (slight shock and trauma), and Goog (possible Ich), in with Lucky, in antibiotics and salt, for a few days?
Goodness, Blacky!!!I think he is just prone to getting caught places, isn't he?I don't think there is any problem putting Blacky in with Lucky for a bit of TLC and treatment cover.I would be a little bit concerned about putting a potential Ich case in with them, but if its mild then we can sometimes even clear Ich with salt treatment (sometimes need malachite green/formalin preparation for big outbreaks). So, as long as we are sure that its not spreading before they are put back in the normal pond then its likely not going to be a problem.Dr. B.
Blacky is certainly determined to test his 9 lives.....but he bounces back every time.....amazing! The only reason I am thinking of putting Goog in the tank with them, is that he is the only other fish I can see that is showing "white spots", and they are just 2 spots, only developed in the the last week or 2......should I not do that?
I have no idea if it is Ich....but since Boof had the spots, and now Goog is the only other one I can see them on, I thought treating him might be appropriate.
To give you an idea.....the pond is approximately 7000 litres, with about 60-70 fish.........about 10 mature fish, and the rest are under 6 months old......20 of those bought in, and the rest born in the pond.
That has to be fish paradise there.You can put them the tank together, it is just that we need to understand that there is a potential risk. Because if this is Ich and infectious then there is a risk of spread. That said, the salt treating should help against mild Ich and thus possibly be a moot issue. My only concern is just that Lucky and Blacky could be a target for something infectious since they may have a bit of a weaker immune system after all their challenges.So, its just whether you wanted to take the risk or not. That said, id Goog has Ich then you do want to treat him and not ignore him, if you know what I mean. So, if he is affected then it may be a case of small risk to the others to keep everyone safe.Dr. B.
I think I'll give it a go......and yes......it is definitely fish paradise!!!!!!!!!! All the local goldfish are so jealous!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks again for everything.......we bury Boof tomorrow.......we'll miss him alot.....we now have only 2 of our 5 originals left.
If I ever come back as a fish, I am voting to be one in your pond. :)You are welcome and I am again sorry that we were not able to fight the forces that had infiltrated poor wee Boof. But I know that you did everything in our power to help him.Take care,Dr. B.