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What is this growth on my goldfish and how can I treat it?

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What is this growth on my goldfish and how can I treat it?
Submitted: 10 months ago.Category: Pet
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Answered in 13 hours by:
10/1/2017
Pet Specialist: Dr. B., Veterinarian replied 10 months ago
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 23,441
Experience: I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Based on what we have here, this is suspicious of lymphocystis (a herpes virus). This virus causes mass type growths on the fish that will appear as soft tissue masses arising from the epidermal layer of the fish (rather then deeper in the muscle). There doesn't tend to be any irritation, ulceration, redness, or infection with these types of lesions. And really they tend to be more unpleasant for us to look at then being actually harmful the fish in itself.

Lymphocystis is actually becoming a more common finding in the domestic goldfish world, mostly due to the ‘silent carrier’ nature of asymptomatic fish. The virus often infects these fish then lies latent, sometimes causing no disease in the carrier fish. Still we tend to see a problem with this virus when it does recrudesce and causes these viral induced masses to appear in the infected fish. This recrudesce is often linked to a weakness in their immune system (either because of their age, stress, if the fish is immunosuppressed or fighting some kind of infection that takes the attention of the immune system). And it is this time of weakness that triggers the herpes virus causes its mischief.

I am afraid that there is no treatment for this virus, and with time they tend to increase in size and can become pedunculated and prone to trauma/infection.

As well, I must advise you that if you have had a carrier fish in the tank, he will have exposed all his tank mates. This means all the fish are likely carriers. That said, this doesn’t mean we will see this type of tumor formation in all of them (though there is a risk). Their individual risk of development will be linked to potential future immune challenge which may allow the lymphocystis to get ahold.

The only reliable way to get rid of it in the tank would be to cull all fish present (which would be unfortunate) and have a full drain/sterilize (probably wait a few weeks) and then start again. Alternatively, you can maintain the stock you have, know this is a risk and make sure water parameters are as best they can be and disease risk factors are as low as possible, to deter lymphocystis recrudescence. I would say if you chose to continue with this stock (I probably would because I am sucker for broken animals) that you should perhaps avoid bringing in new fish, because while they could theoretically already carry the virus, if introduced to these fish the potential of having it would be more likely, if you know I mean.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.

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