Goldfish keep dying...I think I've tried everything


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Hi, everyone! It's been a long time since I've posted on the forum, but I am in need of some help. Some background: 500 gallon, rock bottom pond, Aquascape setup, 2500 gph pump, pond is 3 years old. Water is crystal clear, water test results zero ammonia, nitrates, nitrites; 8.2 ph during the day. Pond is stocked with goldfish varieties.

I'll try to make a long story short: My problem is over the last 2 weeks I have found 6 dead fish (1 per day) and 2 are missing (presumed dead, pond is netted). Last week I did 3 treatments of Microbe-Lift BSDT with appropriate water changes in between and I added an airstone - fish were darting (not really flashing), no white spots, fish were lethargic, not eating, not swimming, "hanging" out by the waterfall. After the BSDT, fish were still dying. Found 1 dead with septecimia symptoms, so I've been treating the pond with Melafix. Been using Melafix for 1 week now. I still have a few fish that are just "hanging" out - not swimming, not eating. I also have one shubunkin that has been swollen on 1 side only for about 3 weeks. This shubunkin is swimming and eating; no change for better or worse since I've medicated the pond.

I've ordered some medicated food online, but it won't be here for a few days. I figured this is the last thing I could try. I also have some Seachem "garlic" flavoring coming to hopefully entice the non-eaters to eat the medicated food.

Am I missing something here? Thanks so much!
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koidaddy

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At three years and rock on the bottom you might have issues there. Maybe its releasing just enough toxic gas to do a slow kill.
 
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I have about 9 fish left. Half of them are 3-4 inches, the rest are around 1-2 inches. I was afraid you guys/gals would answer with "a possible rock" problem :cheerful: . So, what's a girl to do? Should I drain the pond, clean it, and take the rocks out? I've always heard that draining a pond is not a good idea. As far as water changes are concerned, I've never really done them. I did do water changes when I was treating the pond, but I do not do them on a regular basis. I test my water frequently and have never had a problem with ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, etc.
 

stroppy

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if you have something large to put the fish in with some of the pond water and add fresh water with decolor .. then you could lift the rocks out and any muck thats in the bottom .. i think regular water changes would also help as its quite a small pond with quite a few fish
 
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Of course, it's always the rocks. Must be the rocks. Rocks are bad. Muck, bad. Repeated in every pond forum forever and will be repeated forever.

Kind of ignores the fact that these fish have evolved to live in an environment with muck. It's only in the last 20 years that muck has become a problem...but only for hobbyists. Koi and Goldfish farms have no problem growing dense populations in muck filled ponds. Show Koi are kept in muck ponds to get them ready for shows.

The amount of toxic chemicals produced by muck is no where close to being harmful to goldfish and koi.

If you go with popular wisdom and drain your pond you can certainly expect to lose a few more fish. That process isn't easy on fish. I can't think of a more stressful thing to do to fish already stressed.

Aquascape does require a yearly drain and cleaning, but I'm not sure that isn't to generate revenue for dealers. I don't actually like loose rock and prefer to mortar them in place so it's easier to vacuum. I don't generally like muck but only for aesthetic reasons.

Back to the issue...I've never had any luck treating fish. The main problem is I rarely have a clue what's wrong. Treating an unknown problem is a sure way to create a problem. Don't feel good? Go to the drug store and start taking stuff working your way thru aisles A to Z. You'll be really sick in short order.

I would treat individual fish in isolated tanks. If I lucked into a cure I could apply it to the pond. It might not be the actual cure, but at least a better guess. And small tanks allow more control.

Swollen on one side makes me wonder about the food. Maybe it got damp and then a fungus or something. I switch food at the first sign of trouble only because it's easy and does no harm. For me it never was the food.

Because so many are affected suddenly I don't think it would be parasites.

I'd check KH level. I assume it's fine, but I find it more telling than pH.

Were the levels tested before or after or before and after the water changes for the BSDT? A 90% water change can move levels all over the chart for awhile.

No recent spawning?

You can repeat the BSDT but only after you flush the Melafix.

I think Melafix is more for external issues and it didn't sound like these fish have a single symptom that Melafix would solve. PimaFix is suppose help with internal issues. So if you wanted to guess I'd guess PrimaFix over Melafix. However, I think the BSDT would have solved any problem either Melafix or PimaFix would, but I'm not sure.

The standard catch all is salt treatment of course. Pretty safe as long as your calculations are right.

Sorry for your losses. I know it's no fun.
 
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koidaddy

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Dont confuse our closed systems with what mother nature does naturally. ROCKS(meaning pea gravel/river rock) ON THE BOTTOM ARE NOT GOOD! No one mentioned muck being bad but if there is no circulation, the muck can be bad in high concentrates. Rocks harbor crud beneth them that has nowhere to go. Remember these are closed systems. In nature, the size of the body of water is usually much larger then our hobby ponds. More water = a more balanced system. So at 500 gallons, toxic waste build up can deffinitaly be an issue. Not saying this is your problem, I just want to clarify things some for you.

So YES, it CAN be the rocks.
 
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We have been having our "Indian Summer" the last several days, so I took advantage of the nice weather yesterday and did a major pond cleanout. Due to the problems I've been having and the fish deaths, I decided cleaning the pond was the only thing left to do to try to eradicate the problem.

I started at 9:00 in the morning and basically finished at 7:00 in the evening. Most of the rocks are gone from the bottom. I took out all of the big rocks and left just a couple handfuls of the pebbles. I don't consider myself a "girlie girl," but I can tell you one thing: I am so sore I can barely walk and my fingers even hurt (from scooping pebbles).

I was very nervous doing this cleanout. I bought a snap-set kiddie pool for the fish and used an aerator while they were in there. The sad part is the kiddie pool is bigger than my pond, so they probably enjoyed it!

I cannot tell you how dirty the pond was. 3 years of accumulated gunk in the rocks. Hopefully this will solve my problem.

I checked on the fish today, and they all survived the ordeal and look happy. The pond also looks bigger without all those boulders on the bottom.

The one thing I am concerned about is an ammonia spike. Since I cleaned out the filters and (I'm thinking) I no longer have an "established" pond, do I need to worry? I'm also thinking I might get an algae bloom, but as long as it doesn't affect the fish, I can deal with that.
 

sissy

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Do goldfish need wheat germ this time of year .I know I started mine on it already
 

j.w

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Bet it looks nice now Anita and hope the fish turn out to be ok from the big change in water quality. I'm hoping for the best for them.

Sissy I feed my goldfish the wheat germ and I already started a couple weeks ago, They love it!
 

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We have been having our "Indian Summer" the last several days, so I took advantage of the nice weather yesterday and did a major pond cleanout. Due to the problems I've been having and the fish deaths, I decided cleaning the pond was the only thing left to do to try to eradicate the problem.

I started at 9:00 in the morning and basically finished at 7:00 in the evening. Most of the rocks are gone from the bottom. I took out all of the big rocks and left just a couple handfuls of the pebbles. I don't consider myself a "girlie girl," but I can tell you one thing: I am so sore I can barely walk and my fingers even hurt (from scooping pebbles).

I was very nervous doing this cleanout. I bought a snap-set kiddie pool for the fish and used an aerator while they were in there. The sad part is the kiddie pool is bigger than my pond, so they probably enjoyed it!

I cannot tell you how dirty the pond was. 3 years of accumulated gunk in the rocks. Hopefully this will solve my problem.

I checked on the fish today, and they all survived the ordeal and look happy. The pond also looks bigger without all those boulders on the bottom.

The one thing I am concerned about is an ammonia spike. Since I cleaned out the filters and (I'm thinking) I no longer have an "established" pond, do I need to worry? I'm also thinking I might get an algae bloom, but as long as it doesn't affect the fish, I can deal with that.
What is your water temp. now/ If it's getting in the lower 50's you should be in great condition, just be very cautous about feeding. I would go strictly to wheat germ at this point to keep the waste load down to a minimum and only feed small amounts. yes, wheatgerm is highly recommended for goldfish as well as Koi. Watch for a ammonia and nitrite spike but it may only be a small spike. this is a great time of the year to do exqactly what you did for your pond, next spring you'll want to make sure that all the leaves that may have made it into the pond are removed, but other than maybe a backflush of the filter and possibly a bacteria supplement for kick starting the pond in the spring you should be in great shape. I'm sure your fish will over winter far better this year than they would have if you had left all that in the pond through the winter.
 
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Thanks for the support! Certainly hope it works.

Fishin4cars - our weather has taken a turn for the worse. It is much cooler now (in the 50s-60s), so I'm sure the pond temp has dropped quite a bit. I'll check the actual temp in a little while here, as I have to go out in the rain and fix my net. I shouldn't have to worry about leaves in the pond as I keep it netted 24/7. I feel like I live in a wildlife refuge. About the only critter I haven't seen in my yard on a daily basis is a fox or a rat, however, I'm sure they're around :razz: . A coon is what actually started my problems a few months back. I'll also test the water and see how it is. Probably a good idea to add the cold water bacteria now, too.

My fish hate wheat germ food. I've tried 2 different varieties, and they won't eat it. I think I'll try mixing it with some fishy garlic juice and see if they eat it then...
 

j.w

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Mine seem to like everything I give them. Could come from the fact that I never fed them (goldfish) for the first several yrs that I had them and they have the ................"Oh no she's never going to feed us again so we better eat everything she gives us syndrome",lol!
 
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Mine seem to like everything I give them. Could come from the fact that I never fed them (goldfish) for the first several yrs that I had them and they have the ................"Oh no she's never going to feed us again so we better eat everything she gives us syndrome",lol!
That's the best part of having a pond IMO - feeding the fish!

Checked the temp of the pond water: 64*F. They ate a little of the wheat germ/garlic food, but not a lot. Also tested the water, and everything is fine. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, pH 8.2 (which is normal for me). Thank goodness!
 
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j.w

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Yep it's fun to feed them but if they eat too good all the time they reproduce like crazy so I will cut back when things get outta hand. Everything balances out w/ survival of the fastest,lol!
 

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