*Please note any combination of the symptoms may be present INCLUDING no visible symptoms at all. Symptoms listed are not necessarily in order of likelihood. This is not a definitive list of all possible causes, signs and symptoms, just more commonly seen issues.
**Diagnosis is advisable by microscope exam, or in some cases elimination (fix the water!).
|Potential cause (not in order of likelihood).|
|Gasping at |
|Oxygen compromisation, Nitrite toxicosis, elevated |
levels of TDS (Total dissolved solids), General poor
|Compromised or failed swim bladder function, genetic |
defect (present inherently in some fancy goldfish
through selective breeding), air in gut through
‘gulping’ (quite common in fancy goldfish and some
sturgeon species – notably juveniles).
|Laying on |
|Swim bladder compromised, temperature issues |
(excessive cold can influence fish in this manner)
|Redness of |
|High ammonia, parasitic (Flukes, costia, chilodonella,|
tricodina,whitespot…), high nitrite, high TDS,
poor/cramped living conditions, damage.
|Fins rotting |
|Bacterial infection – columnaris/flexibacter|
|Parasitic infection (costia, flukes, trichodina, |
chilodonella, whitespot…), poor water parameters or
dirty water, chemical in water,
|Saprolegina, highly likely to be a secondary infection to anything on the list.|
|‘Waxy’ lumps |
|Koi/Carp Pox – generally worse in lower temperatures.|
tumors on skin
|Benign tumors. May grow to large sizes. More|
common on ornamental species.
skin – may
| Hikui (on red/orange pigments), benign growth, excessive breeding tubercles in |
male fish (notably large common varieties of
|Small red |
appearing on fin. May show scales being
|Bacterial infection, damage through injury|
body and skin
|Bacterial infection, damage though injury (excessive |
flicking and rubbing due to parasites and/or poor water
|Dropsy – |
|Organ failure, infection through injury – Unable to osmo-regulate correctly.|
|Starvation, parasites – heximita, internal worms (too many to list and varies by species), genetics, poor quality food. Distress caused by any of the above causing the fish to avoid food.|
|Natural colour changing (particularly cyprinids), Areas of black pigment appearing can indicate damage repair and usually recedes, some chemical treatments |
when combined can induce a full colour change –
usually to black.
|Parasite infection, poor water quality, neurological |
issues, electric shock, oxygen compromisation.
|Any of the above, organ failure, genetic complications or |
just end of life (old age).
A word of warning, there are many general treatments available and some aquatic retails are bound by brands they supply and will try to push certain treatments and offer a general pond tonic. These generally are not sufficient without accurate diagnosis.
Advice: Do your own research (not on social media or down the pub!), eductate and upskill yourself, and contact an independent specialist if available in your area. This may involve a fee (experience and knowledge has a value! And it is their employment!). You can save a lot of money and heartache this way. Your fish should be treated as a pet like any other animal.