How to Save a Dying Goldfish

Table of contents:

How to Save a Dying Goldfish
How to Save a Dying Goldfish

One of the worst experiences for goldfish breeders is when the pet shows signs of dying. There are many reasons for goldfish to die, including various illnesses and even depression. You can save your fish if you act quickly, and you can enjoy their company for 10 to 20 years.


Part 1 of 3: Assessing the Problem

Save a Dying Goldfish Step 1

Step 1. Separate the sick fish

If you breed multiple goldfish, it's important to separate the one that looks sick from the rest to prevent the disease from spreading through the aquarium. If you only have one fish, leave it in the same place.

  • If the fish is taken to a quarantine aquarium, transport it in a plastic bag inside a paper bag; that way, he won't be so scared and stressed.
  • You can fill the new aquarium with the same water as the old one. However, if the cause of the disease is water, it is better to use a different one. If you fill the tank with fresh water, put the plastic bag in there for about 20 minutes to let the fish get used to the new temperature.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 2

Step 2. Test the water quality

Many dying fish can be revived with a simple change of water. Maintaining water quality is essential to keeping fish happy and healthy - and alive too.

  • You can find water testing kits at most pet stores.
  • Such tests help to identify any possible problems in the water, such as a high level of ammonia, for example.
  • Test the temperature to ensure it is optimal, between 10 °C to 20 °C.
  • Test the acidity of the water. Most fish do well in environments with a neutral pH, close to 7.
  • If the water is too acidic, buy a neutralizing chemical at a pet store.
  • Test the oxygenation of the water to ensure that the saturation is greater than 70%.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 3

Step 3. Clean the tank and change the water

Goldfish produce a lot of dirt, making the aquarium fill up with ammonia and algae quickly. A simple cleaning and water change can save the goldfish right away.

  • Place the goldfish in a separate, safe place while cleaning and changing the aquarium water.
  • The tank should be cleaned once a week to prevent bacteria from developing.
  • Remove 15% of the water, all gravel and any algae you find.
  • Do not use chemicals in water. Cleaning the gravel and dirt on the sides of the aquarium is enough. Even small amounts of chemical compounds and soap are enough to kill fish.
  • Fill the tank with clean, cold water, preferably from the tap. Add a water dechlorinator to remove excess chlorine.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 4

Step 4. Observe the goldfish

After cleaning the aquarium and changing the water, observe the fish for a few days to see if these measures were enough to save it. Doing so will help you find out what was - or is - making the goldfish sick.

  • You may see immediate results, in cases such as lack of oxygen in the tank, or it may take a few days for the animal to adjust to the new aquarium conditions.
  • Wait a day or two before trying any other treatment, preventing the fish from being treated for a disease it doesn't actually have, which could make it unwell.

Part 2 of 3: Reviving the goldfish

Save a Dying Goldfish Step 5

Step 1. Identify the symptoms of a dying fish

There are several different symptoms and illnesses in goldfish. Identify them correctly and as soon as possible you can save the goldfish from death.

  • The best time to look for signs of illness and death is after eating.
  • Breathing Problems: Note if the fish is panting for air, breathing rapidly, rising to the surface of the water, or lying on the bottom of the aquarium. Such characteristics indicate diseases or poor water quality.
  • Internal parasites: Goldfish are naturally hungry. If you notice that the fish is not eating or is losing weight, it may have internal parasites.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: If you notice that the fish is swimming erratically, upside down, or rubbing itself on surfaces, this may indicate a swim bladder disease or a problem with the animal's feeding.
  • Fungal Diseases: If the fish shows symptoms such as bent or crooked fins, discolored spots, lumps, bulging eyes, pale gills, and swelling, it has signs of fungal disease.
  • Fin rot: This is one of the most common fungal diseases among fish and has symptoms such as white areas on the fins and a ragged appearance on the fins.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 6

Step 2. Look for symptoms in other fish

Once you've identified symptoms in a dying goldfish, look to see if other aquarium inhabitants also suffer from similar symptoms. Doing so can help identify the real reason for the illness.

Save a Dying Goldfish Step 7

Step 3. Remove the filter and treat the water

You can treat illnesses such as fungal infections and fin rot by removing the filter and treating the water. This could save the goldfish from death.

  • Remove the carbon filter from the tank and use industrialized treatments, such as methylene blue, to treat fungal infections.
  • If you are unsure whether the fish has a fungal infection or fin rot, do not use this treatment. Using chemicals to treat problems that don't actually exist can cause great harm to the animal.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 8

Step 4. Treat the water with heat and salt

If you notice white spots on the fish's body, they probably have some disease caused by external parasites, such as small leeches or lice. Using a heat and salt treatment can help treat the disease and save the animals.

  • Raise the aquarium temperature slowly to 30°C over a 48 hour period to prevent the parasites from reproducing. Keep the tank at this temperature for about 10 days.
  • Add a tablespoon of salt to the aquarium for every 20 liters of water.
  • Change the water in the tank every other day.
  • Reduce the aquarium temperature gradually to 18°C.
  • You can use this method in the aquarium even if there are healthy fish in it. This could remove some even small parasites that might have infected them.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 9

Step 5. Feed the fish with vegetables and low-protein foods

If the fish's problem is in the swim bladder, changing the water will not solve it. Feeding it with vegetables such as frozen peas and low-protein foods can help alleviate ailments in the area.

  • Frozen peas are a good option, as they are high in fiber, as well as sinking in the tank, so the fish don't have to look for food on the surface of the aquarium.
  • Do not overfeed sick fish. Only feed him again when all the previous food has been eaten. Failure to follow this guidance could cause an ammonia problem in the aquarium and make the animals even sicker.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 10

Step 6. Remove parasites with tweezers

If you notice parasites on your goldfish, such as some leeches, you can get them out using tweezers. Do it very calmly and gently so as not to hurt or kill the pet.

  • Some parasites burrow deep inside fish. In such cases, it may be necessary to combine the tweezers with some treatment purchased at a pet store.
  • Be careful to grab the parasite as close as possible to the fish to ensure you remove the entire parasite and not just part of it.
  • Return the fish to the water every minute so that it can breathe during the procedure.
  • It may take a few weeks for the aquarium to be completely free of parasites.
  • Only use this technique if you know the fish has worms or parasites and you know you are capable of handling the animal gently so as not to hurt or kill it.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 11

Step 7. Use manufactured medicines

If you're not sure what's causing the fish to get sick, try using a drug that treats several diseases at once. Doing so could save the fish from some disease or parasite.

  • You can find fish medication in most pet stores and even some large supermarket chains.
  • Be aware that these general treatments may not be right, they may be useless or even make your fish worse off. It will always be safer and healthier for your pet to know exactly what the problem is and to treat it the right way.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 12

Step 8. Take the fish to the vet

If you notice that the home treatment is not working, take the pet to the veterinarian. He will be able to identify why the goldfish is dying and develop a treatment plan.

  • Transport the fish in a plastic bag covered with a paper bag so the animal is not stressed.
  • Be aware that the veterinarian may not be able to help the fish and that it may die even with professional treatment.

Part 3 of 3: Preventing disease in goldfish

Save a Dying Goldfish Step 13

Step 1. Know that prevention is always the best medicine

Preventing disease is the best way to keep the goldfish healthy and prevent it from dying. Clean the aquarium regularly and give the fish a varied diet. With the necessary care, you will avoid the risk of death for the animal.

Save a Dying Goldfish Step 14

Step 2. Maintain water quality

Keeping the aquarium water clean and fresh is essential to keeping the minnows healthy and alive. In addition to ensuring the ideal water temperature, you should always check that there is enough oxygen in the tank.

  • Goldfish thrive well in water temperatures between 10 °C to 20 °C. The colder the water, the more oxygenated it will be.
  • Goldfish produce a lot of dirt, which can raise ammonia levels in the aquarium, increasing the risk of illness and death for the animals.
  • Test the water quality every week to ensure it is always high.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 15

Step 3. Clean the aquarium regularly

By cleaning the tank frequently, you will not only maintain the quality of the water, but also remove bacteria and algae that could be life-threatening to the fish. Weekly cleanings can help a lot in preventing illness.

  • Change several liters of water each week to remove excess chemicals.
  • Clean up any algae or silt that may have developed on the gravel and sides of the aquarium.
  • Trim any plants that may have overgrown.
  • Clean or change the charcoal filter every month.
  • Do not use any kind of chemical or soap to clean the aquarium, they can kill the fish.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 16

Step 4. Feed the goldfish a balanced diet

One of the best ways to prevent disease and death of goldfish is through a balanced and varied diet. It is equally important not to overfeed them, as doing so will not only make them sick, it will also affect the quality of the water.

  • You can feed the fish with industrialized foods, in dehydrated flake form. They provide a balanced diet.
  • Feed the goldfish with peas, brine shrimp and tubifex.
  • You can feed algae as treats to the fish, allowing it to grow in one corner of the aquarium so the fish can nibble on it.
  • Don't overfeed the fish. They only need to be fed once a day; any excess food can fall to the bottom of the aquarium and harm the quality of the water.
Save a Dying Goldfish Step 17

Step 5. Separate the sick goldfish from the healthy fish

If there are few animals that are sick or on the brink of death, separate them from the others. This way, you will prevent a healthy fish from developing any disease or dying.

  • It is a good idea to have a quarantine aquarium for sick fish.
  • Just return the fish to the main tank once it is healthy again.


Be prepared for the worst in case you can't save your goldfish


Popular by topic