Bubble trouble?
November 30, 2011 9:24 PM   Subscribe

I just got a couple of fantail goldfish, which I am keeping in a approx. 5 gallon vase. One of my fish has developed what looks like tiny bubbles on his fins. What are these?

I am keeping a live plant with my fish, which the store recommmended to help keep the water oxygenated. I just changed the water for the first time yesterday. I dumped the whole tank, but kept a third of the original water, which I then added back in. I have been treating the water with Tetra AquaSafe plus and feeding OmegaOne small pellets. Maybe I have been feeding too much. Not really sure how many pellets each fish needs each day. It sounds stupid, but I like my fish and hope it is not sick. I tried looking up info online, but I suck at online searches, and didn't really find helpful info. It might be a bacterial infection. If so, what do I do?
posted by melangell to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Could be whitespot - happens when you change water and there is a temperature decrease.

Whitespot likes light and cool water
posted by the noob at 9:33 PM on November 30, 2011

Fish Profiles is a great resource for identifying fish and diseases, and pretty much everything else aquarium related.
I can't say for sure that it's related, but Goldfish do require a LOT of space as they're dirty little buggers that like to swim a lot. It's been a while since I've kept or sold fish, but when I was working in an aquatics store, I think we recommended around 20 gallons per Goldfish.
posted by piedmont at 10:00 PM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Tiny bubbles? See second photo from top. Could be fish lice. The second link has a lot of information you may find useful with your new guys
posted by JujuB at 11:13 PM on November 30, 2011

I don't know what your issue is, but if you continue to use that container, you are going to continue to have problems.

Fancy goldfish generally require about 10 gallons per fish to live healthy lives, and that is assuming they don't get too big. At 10 gallons per fish, you will still have to do regular water changes and monitor things closely.

Unfortunately, these types of goldfish have very weak immune systems, and are prone to getting sick very easily.

I would suggest that you get at least a 20 gallon tank with water pump/filter. No amount of plants in a 5 gallon vase will be enough to keep 3 fancy goldfish alive for long.
posted by markblasco at 12:24 AM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

The issue with vases is that there isn't much surface area for gas exchange, exacerbating problems with insufficient water volume. TBH, I've done loads of research on freshwater fishkeeping and I've gotten a lot of pushback on keeping even a tiny school of danios in a 4G nano tank--just about everyone seems to recommend loads of water volume for healthy goldfish. A single betta would probably like your vase.

However, to answer your question, it's probably ich or lice. You can treat ich using aquarium salt or medication, but try looking at pictures online to ascertain your diagnosis before you treat. You might want to consider making a quick & dirty quarantine tank for treating sick fish. It's basically a sterilite container, cheap pump, cheap heater, and cheap filter that you can throw together for about $35.

If you didn't cycle your tank, your fish may be experiencing stress, which can make your fish more vulnerable to parasites and other issues.
posted by xyzzy at 12:48 AM on December 1, 2011

Best answer: I'm going to echo everyone else and say that you need at least a 20 gallon tank, with a strong filtration system. Pet store goldfish are hard enough to keep that at the corporate pet store I work at, I'm allowed to refuse a goldfish sale to anyone who doesn't have at least a 20 gallon tank (due to the amount of returns we'd be getting within the 14 day return period).

So: 20 gallon tank. Get it together and filled, and let it cycle while you treat the fish in a proper sick tank, like xyxxy recommends. If you memail me some pictures I can help diagnose, I see a LOT of sick goldfish on a daily basis.

In the meantime, while the 20g tank and the sick tank are being acquired, change a gallon of water from the vase every three or four days. Treat the fresh gallon of water with the recommended dose of freshwater aquarium salt (http://tinyurl.com/aquariumsalt) like that. Since it's such a small container, you should probably only use the salt every other water change.

I'd do something like: saturday, change a gallon and add the correct dose of salt to the gallon you put back. tuesday, change out a gallon. saturday, change out a gallon and add salt to the gallon you put back. and so on and so forth.

If there's a Petsmart near you, they usually do water tests for free, so about 3 days after you get the quarantine tank and 20 gallon tank set up, take a bit of water from each (in separate containers) to be tested. Ask to keep the results of the tests! It's helpful to keep track of you water quality over the life of your tank, because eventually you'll be able to gauge exactly how often and much of the water you'll need to change to keep your fish happy and healthy.

If the water quality in the sick tank is okay, you can transfer the fish into it. I'd acclimate the fish slowly, maybe get a clean bucket and fill it with half vase water and half sick tank water. Once the fish have been in the bucket for about half an hour to an hour, you can net them into the sick tank (don't add any of the contaminated water to the sick tank). You can then proceed to treat whatever disease the fish have.

Whew, sorry that was so long! if you have any questions at all just send me a message and I will do my best to clarify. And don't forget to send me some pictures of the fish so I can try and help you diagnose them!
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 4:40 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Goldfish need filters. They poop a lot. If you are not cleaning the tank and replacing the water frequently (once a week) you are probably subjecting your fish to all sorts of stress. You also seem to have a very small space for a lot of fish. Please get a proper fish tank, they have very nice ones now that are very decorative. Use a filter and test the pH of the water before you put the fish in it.

Are the bubbles with fuzzies on it? If so, they have Ichthyophthirius (AKA Ich or Ick.) It is like a cold for fish. You can get the stuff you drop into the whole tank, but it may take longer to get rid of ich with just the water drops. You can take the fish out of the water and quickly with a q-tip and alcohol wipe off all of the spots and drop him back into the tank (hopefully with clean water and ich drops in it. If you have a filter by then, take the carbon out of the filter while you treat the fish because the carbon will remove the medicine and you've wasted the treatment you are administering to the fish.

Luckily, goldfish are very resilient and most of the time giving them fresh water and a filter will clear up most of their diseases.

Good luck.
posted by Yellow at 4:49 AM on December 1, 2011

There is so much misinformation that pet stores give out in the interest of selling fish. Plus lots of fish are already sick when you bring them home, so please don't be too hard on yourself. It's great that you care about your fish and don't want them to be sick. For what you said, it seems that getting a bigger fish tank with a proper filtration system would be the best solution for you, because you clearly enjoy having fish. Keeping fish in a vase can only work out in the short term.

As far as how much to feed the fish, I use the rule of thumb that the amount of food should equate to the size of the fish's eye twice a day. Overfeeding is even more of a problem when the tank has not been cycled yet. Good luck!
posted by tr0ubley at 8:41 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing everyone else saying you really can't keep fish in a bowl anymore. You need a tank with a filtration system or you're going to have this problem, followed by many other, followed by many other replacement fish.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:01 AM on December 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer my question. I feel like I know what to do now.
posted by melangell at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2011

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