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Dr. Dan M.
Dr. Dan M., Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1503
Experience:  Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon
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two oranda goldfish sick

Customer Question

2 oranda goldfish, 10 gallon tank, one of them started to seat in the bottom of the tank and he opens and shuts his mouth constantly, after a couple of days, the second is doing the same but he keeps his mouth closed as normal . I've tested the water with the 6 in 1 test strips and for ammonia too and everything looks good. Nitrates are low and within safe range. I think they are going to die soon but I can not find a reason, and I have run out of options. I have have them for over a year. I know the tank is small but I'm always checking the water and I recently updated the filter from an easy flow 10 gallons to an aqua clear for up to 30 gallons. Is there anything else I can do to save them or not? thank you

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.

I hope I can help with your question and do message me if you have any queries regarding my answer/advice.

I am sorry your fish are unwell and albeit unable to give an accurate diagnosis or remedy, I hope I can maybe offer you some extra it's of help.

So the fact that both fish are unwell indicates that something is happening within the tank, this could either be an inappropriate environment or an infectious problem.

It is great you have considered the water quality as this is by far the most common cause of fish health problems.

It may well still be a water quality problem, but given your testing it is less likely. The important thing is to make sure when you wash the gravel, plants and filter you do so in old water not fresh tap water as this will strip all the good bacteria out of the environment. This directly affects the ability of the water to sustain itself and breakdown all the toxins and waste produced by the fish. You should also make sure the new water is treated to remove the chlorine out of the tap water, you can add specific chemical so do this or simply leave the new water to stand for 24 hours, the chlorine is then removed naturally.

Make sure the water is at an appropriate temperature, ideally below 20 degrees Celsius.

Stress can be an important factor in goldfish health and lack of food, excess food, altered or fluctuating temperatures and too little oxygen as well as the above mentioned removal of good bacteria can all cause stress. This can be improved by identifying the stressor and improving it as well as using some of the commercial 'tonics' that improve water quality and also can perk up the fish.

You could also consider improving aeration by adding an air stone.

Adding salt to fish tanks can sometimes help with illness. The amounts of salt to add are varied and opinions do differ. It is important to do it slowly and stop if any worsening of clinical signs is seen. If abnormal signs are seen the perform a 30-50% water change. I would use 2-4 tablespoons of salt for the 10 gallon tank. Mix the salt in a mug of the tank water and add to the tank, add the total amount of salt over 1-2 days bit by bit.

I hope you manage to see improvement and the fish don't die.

Good luck and let me know if you have any queries.


Dr Dan Makin

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I usually clean everything with tap water so it might be that I'm removing the good bacteria. I put 1 tsp of stress zyme in yesterday and 1 more tsp today. Is it that helpful? I put in 5 teaspoons of salt yesterday too. One of the fish seems a little better than the other, it at least swims a little some times. In case of being an infectious problem, is there anything I can do? The fish physical appearance looks fine, no fungus or ick or anything like that. Thank you

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I've been reading more and what I've seen is that the problem is Dropsy, I understand is not curable but I wanted to know if you have any recommendations.

Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.

I am sorry that it may be dropsy, this is a very difficult condition to cure. Usually the fish will bulge at the abdomen to the point its scales stick out.

Dropsy indicates a problem with the kidneys and an inability for the fish to maintain its fluid and ion balance in its body.

The problem is often caused by infection.

It is very unlikely that this will be able to be cured, but it is worth a go.

In this situation the saltwater 'hospital' tank is helpful. What you want is about a 0.6% salt water solution. This will be approximately 6g of salt per litre of water. Solutions up to 0.9% can be used, but I would stick to 0.6%.

In this case you will also need to try to raise the water temperature as this can help during infection.

A broad spectrum antibacterial should be applied to the water as well, you should be able to get something from your local aquatic store. This will help treat and prevent infection.

It may be you do see improvement but things deteriorate when treatment is withdrawn.

Good luck

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Dan, how often should I put the salt in? I poured 238 g in today so when should put in the same quantity again?

Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.

Observe them for worsening of signs with this addition of salt, if ok then keep for 7 days then do a 30% water change and making sure the new is dechlorinated and salted to 0.6%

If you see that they worsen following the salt addition then do a 50% water change immediately to dilute it and then slowly build back up to 0.6% salt over 48 hrs I.e add a little at a time.

Good luck

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Is it Maracyn-Oxy the right medication?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Another option is melafix, which one you recommend?
Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.

Of the two I would use the melafix. Probably more broad spectrum and less likely to worsen the situation.

Good luck

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Dan,


I took the carbon out of the filter as per the directions on the medication box, just wondering if is is it ok to have it removed for as long time of treatment lasts which is at least one week?.

Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.

Yes, that should be fine, unless you need to re medicate in 1 week, put it back then. The carbon filter would remove the mediation from the water if it were left in.

Remember to clean the carbon filter and sponges in dirty water not tap water :)

Take care

Dr. Dan M. and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Dan,


I notice that their fins are falling apart. One of them has lost like half of every fin and the other one is starting to lose some part of their fins. Is that consistent with dropsy, should I add another antibiotic or Melafix is fine?


Thank you for all your help



Expert:  Dr. Dan M. replied 4 years ago.
Hi Patricia,The tail shredding isn't typical of dropsy and usually is classed as fin rot which that medicat should remedy.But it could also develop secondarily to the dropsy if the immune system is struggling.I would continue with the plan and treatment, but if it is worsening then a more specific antibacterial maybe advisable to help with the fin rot. You will need to check though that any new medication is compatible with the initial tonic you have used.Certainly fin rot has a better outlook do it would be better news than dropsy.Good luckDan