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Goldfish Health Care - Symptoms and Cures

Updated on January 26, 2011

There will be times when, even though you have carried out all the maintenance tasks and done all you can to care for your goldfish, one or more of them may become sick. If you regularly observe your goldfish - through the glass rather than by netting them, which will cause them undue stress - you will soon notice when one of them starts to display unusual symptoms.

Symptoms to look for

Never ignore changes in a goldfish's appearance: look out for damage to skin and fins, sudden bloating, sticky faeces trailing from the vent, and spots, sores or discoloration of the skin. Are your goldfish behaving differently? A sick goldfish may be more or less active than normal, may refuse to feed, and may float, sink, whirl or swim sideways. You may also notice that fins are clamped tightly to the body or that the fish scratch themselves against objects in the aquarium.

Seeking advice

If you are concerned about the health of your goldfish, don't hesitate to seek help. A good pet shop or aquatic dealer may be able to offer advice and they will stock a range of treatments. However, it is important that you accurately diagnose the problem so that you can administer the correct medication rather than trying several different treatments. If you are not sure what to do, always seek professional advice from a veterinarian.

Treating sick fish

When using any medication, be sure to follow the directions exactly and measure the dosage carefully. Some of these medications are very potent and an overdose could be fatal. Some medications may be administered to the whole tank and will not harm other fish; in other cases you will need to isolate the sick fish in a quarantine tank. Again, follow the directions, and the advice of your veterinarian, precisely. Remember to keep any utensils in which you mix the medication solely for aquarium use and to wash them thoroughly with warm water after use.


Sometimes it is kinder to euthanase a very sick fish than to allow it to suffer. Euthanasing fish can be a complex subject and requires experience, so the best thing to do is to consult a knowledgeable aquatic retailer or, better still, a veterinarian.

Never euthanase a fish by putting it into the freezer, leaving it out of water or flushing it down the toilet, as all these methods cause unacceptable suffering. Flushing pet fish down the toilet can also pass on diseases to wild fish populations. Bury dead individuals or dispose of them with the household rubbish.


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