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Title: Massive Goldfish Die Off:(


Lindali - May 29, 2012 10:42 PM (GMT)
I've been a member of this forum for a few years and learned a lot from Robyn's site, or so I thought.

I am having a major crisis this year. Brief re-intro: I have a 5,500 gallon goldfish pond built in 2009 , 2 feet deep, bare liner bottom with some rock areas on waterfall and on sides, 2 pumps running skimmer/waterfall combo and bottom drain / settling chamber setup with UV light. No suspended algae because of the UV, I have some string algae but only on the waterfall rocks. The filters are maintained and I vacuum the bottom every few weeks to reduce debris, mostly settled algae clumps from the UV.

I started with 10 goldfish which with their progeny multiplied to 100+ over the past 3 years, too many to count accurately. I have never had more than a few fish die per year, usually late winter casualties.

The past few weeks, I have had a massive die-off, probably 40 fish. At least 2 or 3 per day. Yesterday was 8 dead, today 7 dead.

My water parameters tested normal: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 7.5 to 8.0, KH 5.

On examination, the bodies of the dead goldfish look normal, no fungus, no spots, no bruising, good color. I checked the gills and they did seem a very pale pink rather than reddish, but evenly colored.

The majority of the fish that are still alive are acting normally, no gasping, no flashing. When I thump on the deck, they know that means feeding time. Actually, just my footsteps cause them to swim as fast as they can to me. Since the die-off started, I have been looking for signs of trouble. I did see a few resting on the bottom, or "hovering" listlessly, which I suspect those are the ones dead the next day. I have so many the same colors I cannot be sure. I would say that more of the fish that are dying are the smaller ones, body length 3 - 4" without the tail, but some are larger. My largest goldfish are 3 years old and 6" body length without the tail.

I also have about 50 rosey reds which I've had since the beginning and 2 golden orfe. I added the golden orfe late last year (3 total, one disappeared over the winter). The orfe have tripled in size already, from 2 to 6 inches. None of the rosey reds have died, they and the orfes seem fine, very active. The orfe are the only new fish I added, along with some tadpoles last year.

It is only the goldfish are dropping like flies, and I'm concerned I'm going to lose them all. Could I have introduced a pathogen with the water that the orfes or frogs came in?

I have resigned to the fact that there is probably little I can do, but I would welcome comments or suggestions on what could have caused this. Thanks in advance.

Robyn - May 30, 2012 01:53 PM (GMT)
I'm so sorry about your fish.

If the newest fish were the orfe, and those were added last year, it doesn't sound like it's something contagious. Keep in mind though that contagious parasites, bacteria, funguses, etc. can be semi-dormant for years. They can also be brought to the pond with live plants or even from roaming animals that visit the pond. Ideally, you would take an ailing fish or two to someone with experience diagnosing fish diseases. Under a microscope, they should be able to tell if there's something obvious. Since you're not seeing obvious signs, that only makes it harder.

A few years ago, I had a large die off, a few dozen fish over a few months. My fish showed some signs of bacterial problems but nothing that I could diagnose for sure without a fish vet (there are none here!). In my case, I treated the pond with salt and MelaFix, and things finally settled down in time.

Your pond is large, well filtered, and already has a UV which kills suspended pathogens. If you haven't changed the UV lamp in a year, do that to be sure it's working at its best. A water change and treatment with pond salt and/or MelaFix may help.

What has the weather been like? Has it been hot and/or stormy? Hot days and storms can lower the oxygen level in the pond. Do you see any fish gasping or just those laying around? There are oxygen test kits out there for about $10 so it wouldn't hurt to check the oxygen level even though it sounds like your system should be adequate.

When the goldfish lay around (as mine have done as well), it's normally assumed that there's a bacterial problem.

Hopefully, the deaths will subside soon.

Lindali - May 31, 2012 01:56 AM (GMT)
Thanks for your reply, Robyn. Today I only lost 2 fish which believe it or not at this point I consider a "good" day.

I'm pretty sure I have enough oxygen, with two fast flowing waterfalls (one 4800 gph pump and one 2100 gph pump).

I have done some changing of water, earlier this spring about 25% (not by choice, I had some water loss from a stream overflow and lost about 6"). Also I have to replace the water drained out when I use my pond vacuum.

If I had just a few fish having trouble I would try to treat them in a separate pond. I have never used salt in my ponds or aquariums, I'm afraid it would kill my anacharis and water hyacinth which are sensitive even at a level of 0.1%. I have used melafix to treat fin damage in my bettas. I am wondering if it is safe for my cats to drink pond water treated with Melafix, and is it safe for frogs? It is only a mild antibacterial as I understand it. I'm thinking something much more insidious is at work.

Due to the high mortality rate and the fact that the other species of fish are completely unaffected, I'm starting to suspect this could be a viral outbreak of Goldfish Herpes cyHV-2. The dead fish showed the pale gills that is an indicative symptom. It is highly contagious, causes anemia, lethargy, high death rate when there is an active outbreak, and is specific to goldfish. It manifests at temperatures between 50 and 77 degrees F. If so, all my goldfish have been exposed and any survivors will be lifelong carriers.

I'm probably just going to let nature take its course. Deaths come quickly, the afflicted goldfish don't seem to suffer very long. The others are spawning and eating well, like nothing is wrong. I'm going to take a video of my surviving colony while I still can.

Robyn - May 31, 2012 07:58 PM (GMT)
When I use salt, I never go above 0.05%. At that level, it won't harm any animals or plants. Of course, it won't help as much with illness either but I figure something is better than nothing. I have used MelaFix in my main pond many times. It has never harmed any animals or plants or the good bacteria. The only thing is that you have to aerate the water well as it will reduce the air exchange at the water surface. It foams a lot. MelaFix helps a lot more than you'd think, at least it did in my case. I wasn't going to spend hundreds of dollars on antibiotics that may or may not have helped, and that would have potentially killed off the good bacteria in the filter, then killing the fish from ammonia poisoning.

If you haven't added any fish in a year, how do you think your pond could have gotten goldfish herpes in there? I know it was a big problem a few years ago. Here's an article:
http://www.fishkeepingforum.co.uk/forum/fo...ts.asp?TID=1712

Lindali - May 31, 2012 09:17 PM (GMT)
I lost five more today :(. I really have no idea what is happening. I examined them, and they all had very pale gills. Could it be caused by gill flukes? How does a pond get infected? And why are none of the minnows or orfes dying?

About the GHV, I thought maybe the virus could have been in the water that the orfes or the frog tadpoles came in? Can it stay alive without a host? Is it only transmitted fish-to-fish?

ETA:
Here is another article I found about goldfish herpes virus, which explains how widespread it is and how my fish could have been ticking time bombs.
Goldfish herpes article

I may try the salt and/or melafix. Thanks for your suggestions.

sabrillo - June 1, 2012 02:25 PM (GMT)
Sorry for all your fish losses Lindali. I hope your pond and your fish settles down soon and you can enjoy it once again. I myself have been brings fish in since the snow melted and I know the frustration. It's easier for me since I don't have such a big pond and only about 34 fish. It's the not knowing what is happening that can be so maddening. Good luck and keep us informed.

Robyn - June 1, 2012 10:33 PM (GMT)
I'm so sorry that more fish are dying. Gill flukes can certainly kill fish but I wouldn't expect such a massive die off all of a sudden from them. Are there any fish vets or koi experts (koi and goldfish are pretty similar) in your area who could examine your fish?

I don't know enough about the goldfish HV to say whether or not it could be in the water. I wonder though if the other species could carry it or something else and simply not be affected or as affected. They could be carriers. Still, you put the new animals in almost a year ago. It seems strange that nothing would happen until now and then so massively. Also, I never put any store water in my aquariums or ponds. Once the fish are acclimated, use a net or your hands to put them in the pond. Store water is nasty.

Have you done a water change? It couldn't hurt. Be sure to add dechlorinator. I hope things start to improve.

Lindali - June 1, 2012 11:49 PM (GMT)
I am doing another water change this weekend. Did not lose any fish today. I found one but by the decomp level it had been dead longer than a day.

I found a fish vet in the area, makes "house calls" and pond health checkups -- but charges by the hour plus travel time and I probably can't afford him.

Broxandval - June 2, 2012 12:27 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Lindali @ May 31 2012, 09:17 PM)
I lost five more today :(. I really have no idea what is happening. I examined them, and they all had very pale gills. Could it be caused by gill flukes? How does a pond get infected? And why are none of the minnows or orfes dying?

About the GHV, I thought maybe the virus could have been in the water that the orfes or the frog tadpoles came in? Can it stay alive without a host? Is it only transmitted fish-to-fish?

ETA:
Here is another article I found about goldfish herpes virus, which explains how widespread it is and how my fish could have been ticking time bombs.
Goldfish herpes article

I may try the salt and/or melafix. Thanks for your suggestions.

It may well be that it is GHV you will see around 60% die off if it is however KHV has tell tail signs like sunken eyes pale gills exessive mucus etc .
GHV I believe acts in much the same way.
The only way you'll be able to tell is get one of your goldfish to an expert so they can do tests.
If it does turn out to be GHV you'll have to destroy all your koi then nuke your pond leaving it empty for two months .
Did you know that goldfish have been ifdentified as carrying KHV spreading it to koi
I'd do a scrape fiest and get it under a microscpe to see if its parasites before reading into it too much .
rgrds
broxandval Fishiedude Flowersmile

Robyn - June 3, 2012 12:30 AM (GMT)
Just curious. How much does the fish vet cost?

Broxandval - June 3, 2012 08:18 AM (GMT)
Robyn Cant answer that one for you I'm affraid as your whole country is far bigger than the UK thus spreading them further on the ground than here.
You would have to first locate the nearest too you prior to finding out the cost US this is why the AKCA was formed so that you have a person with fish medical qualifications who are willing to come out and treat your koi for nothing.
They would know of any fish Vet in your area and could possibly give you an answer to the cost of such a vet .
Most koi keepers in the UK like ourselves have a grounding in koi medicines as under the new Animal Welfare Bill we have a duty of care towards our koi,( or end up in court if we allow them to die), but for more serious things a fish vet would be required.
For those new to the hobby or for something weve not come across we have BKKS health officials who again would have the knowledge as to where we can find a fish vet.
This is why we have such a large library of koi/fish health books and as you know I always stress a person should read about their hobby first then keep afterwrds.
We are lucky in that just round the corner from us we have a vet willing to dispence antibiotics to us, ulike in the US where you have medicated foods etc we cant buy over the fish dealers counterand thankfully after veiwing them only once they are willing to go with what I say.
Microscopes should also be a peice of the fish keepers kit so that you can scrape for parasites and know exactly what you are up against.
the best microscopes to buy are ex medical ones which are powerful yet affordable being second hand.
However the smaller digital ones like ours are far more readly available and are rather powerful but at a fraction of the price .
I hope this has been of help Robyn

rgrds
broxandval
Fishiedude Flowersmile

Robyn - June 3, 2012 07:04 PM (GMT)
Thanks Dave. I was asking Lindali. I have yet to find a fish vet in my area.

I have a great microscope. I just don't have the training to know what I would be looking at under there. I took one short class but we were required to kill the fish patients. I saw some flukes, that's about it.

Lindali - June 3, 2012 07:52 PM (GMT)
I just got the quote from a fish vet (only one I know of in the area) ... He charges $450 to come see the pond, test water, and check one fish sample for parasites. I didn't even ask what it would cost for a necropsy on one of the casualties, which I think would be important since some illnesses cant be easily seen like a parasite.

Also even if I did find out it was GHV I would never destroy the remaining fish. I would just let nature take its course. I don't have koi, only goldfish and they are all from starting stock of 10 inexpensive comets & shubunkins from my LFS. I know I take good care of my pond so I have done all I can to keep them healthy. They are not suffering that I can see. The losses have slowed, no deaths today.

I love and value my fish, but can't justify spending hundreds of dollars with no guarantee of a solution. I would rather save my money in case I need a new pump or uv light eventually.

I'll pop in here from time to time (love this site) and hopefully won't have any more sad tales.

Robyn - June 4, 2012 07:10 PM (GMT)
Yikes! That is way too much money!

I know when I wanted a pond consult where they would just look and talk for an hour, it was $100. Somebody is bringing in tons of money! Meanwhile, I do all my "work" for free and can't make any money! I tried to just now sign up to be a tutor, and I failed the tests so I can't even do that. I had my first interview today. I don't know if I got it yet but it pays only $15 an hour, and I wouldn't be allowed to take any days off for six months except for taking my mother to the doctor (they okayed that with an unpaid day).

Broxandval - June 7, 2012 01:10 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Lindali @ Jun 3 2012, 07:52 PM)
I just got the quote from a fish vet (only one I know of in the area) ... He charges $450 to come see the pond, test water, and check one fish sample for parasites. I didn't even ask what it would cost for a necropsy on one of the casualties, which I think would be important since some illnesses cant be easily seen like a parasite.

Also even if I did find out it was GHV I would never destroy the remaining fish. I would just let nature take its course. I don't have koi, only goldfish and they are all from starting stock of 10 inexpensive comets & shubunkins from my LFS. I know I take good care of my pond so I have done all I can to keep them healthy. They are not suffering that I can see. The losses have slowed, no deaths today.

I love and value my fish, but can't justify spending hundreds of dollars with no guarantee of a solution. I would rather save my money in case I need a new pump or uv light eventually.

I'll pop in here from time to time (love this site) and hopefully won't have any more sad tales.

Hi Lindali
Ouch that sounds expensive however I've never heard of a fish vet coming out to check your pond they normally just go off the samples you send them , what exactly is this guys qualifications?
We have a so called fish doctor here where we are trouble is "he Isn't and that ended up with him killing a good friend of mines entire pond off completely".
He has to be a doctor of ichtheology with a DVM after his name if he dosn't have that then he isn't a fish Vet.
Many koi keepers who find themselves with KHV have two choices one is to uthanise their entire stock or keep their fish in perpetual Quarentine, sounds easy but it isn't.
It'll mean two seperate ponds for any healthy goldfish you may buy after the GHV , seperate filtration seperate nets seperate everything.
Personally I would descretely enquire about this guy to check him out to see is acctually for real.
I would also contact one of the many AKCA sections that also have a goldfish section to them and their shows to see if you can get this help through one of their health officials who do their work for free.
We are lucky in that we have the head of the BKKS Health Standards committee in our own club who is also our area health officer and who does the work for free.
These clubs will know the contacts you need to talk too, much to say our own man has heard of the so called Koi Doctor here where we are in Plymouth UK and believe you me they dont see eye to eye over this affair of my friend and others who have had a visit from him.
So be careful who you are asking to look at your goldfish they may not be what they are advertizing.
He wrote what is concidered the best book on goldfish covering many problems check out his book :-

http://www.amazon.com/Fancy-Goldfish-Compl...g/dp/0834804484

or contact this site for further information:-

http://drjohnson.com/expanded/helppages.html

My reasons for this is that KHV-GHV is over and above both Robyn's and our remitt and this falls to the professionals

Dave

rgrds

broxandval
Fishiedude Flowersmile

Robyn - June 7, 2012 01:56 PM (GMT)
I put that book on my Wish List (can't buy it until I get a job!).

Broxandval - June 8, 2012 02:32 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Robyn @ Jun 7 2012, 01:56 PM)
I put that book on my Wish List (can't buy it until I get a job!).

Found this one in a Charity shop for The Peoples Dispensary For Sick Animals or the PDSA shop for short.
It was in pristene condition and only cost me 1.00 which is a song concidering that they retail at 45.00 brand new.
You can find some real gems in these places if you look.

rgrds

broxandval

sabrillo - June 8, 2012 01:55 PM (GMT)
Robyn, did you hear back from your interview the other day?

Broxandval - June 8, 2012 02:19 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (sabrillo @ Jun 8 2012, 01:55 PM)
Robyn, did you hear back from your interview the other day?

Yes forgot to ask I hope you get the job

rgrds
broxandval Fishiedude Flowersmile

Robyn - June 8, 2012 10:06 PM (GMT)
They never called to say. Now, my mother doesn't want me to get a full time job because she may be getting conventional treatment for her chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 6 hour IV infusions of monoclonal antibiodies on top of 4 hour tranfusions every 5 weeks. I'm the only one that she trusts to have with her to hand her things and such. I'm taking her to a new oncologist next Friday. My niece also is now off school so it would be nice to do some things with her.

So, the plan for now is to continue to monitor jobs and apply to part time ones or really good full time jobs. Hopefully, by fall, it will be safe for me to get a full time job. Now, actually doing that is the hard part! The economy's in the toilet. I've been applying to chemistry jobs all year even though there are few, most pay less than I used to make, most are far away, and most require skills I don't have. I haven't gotten any chemistry job interviews; nobody even asks. Every job I apply to has literally hundreds of applicants!

On TV last night, they were in Spain, and people under age 30 with college degrees have a 50% unemployment rate there and are begging for minimum wage jobs. I think it's headed that way here in the US.

When they quote say 8.5% unemployment rate here, that means 8.5% of people are getting unemployment benefits. That percentage does not include people who are out of work but did not apply, people who were fired or quit, those that have run out of benefits, and those that were denied benefits. I declined to work in the middle of the night so I was denied any benefits. If I decide I need money bad enough, I presumably could agree to work the night shift (at some imaginary job that may never exisit!).

Rosiemeadow - June 8, 2012 10:15 PM (GMT)
Have you tried applying to the state for an environmental job, my daughter works for the NJDEP she has a biology degree, so you should be a shoe in for sure with your background. Good Luck with your job hunt!

Lindali - June 8, 2012 11:24 PM (GMT)
First off I just want to wish you good luck in your job search, Robyn. I'm sorry to learn of your troubles finding a decent job, you are so educated and intelligent it is so unfair that you have to struggle.

And to Broxandval's questions about the fish vet I contacted, this is his site:

Long Island Fish Hospital

Fortunately the dying stopped about five days ago just as mysteriously as it started. Maybe the warmer temperatures killed off the pathogen. Anyway I do have an improved fish to water volume ratio as a side effect.

Thanks for the links to the helpful sites. I will try to learn as much as I can,hopefully I will not run into this problem again. I won't be introducing any new goldfish, still have plenty.

Broxandval - June 9, 2012 04:10 AM (GMT)
interesting reading but I'm confused what is this Pondtoon device , when I looked it up on line I was taken where ??? straight back to the website I had just come from.
I hope the $450 wasn't for his initial callout as only a small fee is charged in the UK for a vet call out
I checked the good Doctor out he seems cosher to me but background checks should always be done on someone claiming to be a fish vet.
What he is doing isn't rocket science checkng water perameters condition of the filters etc.
Though not qualified I could have done that for you including the scrape , I however find it strange that the pond owner doesnt need to be home, how on earth do you know just what has been done or how long it took.
Plus it doesnt take a detective to see if the pond is being abused by its owner.
In future check up with a goldfish society let them send someonre out to check things out for you.
Better still remember this saying become a keeper of water before a keeper of fish that way you cant go wrong buy the book and read it cover to cover, its the best Goldfish book I've ever come across and Dr Johnson is well known to both koi and goldfish keepers

rgrds
broxandval Fishiedude Flowersmile




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