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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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One goldfish in pond living upside down . Looks dead but still

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One goldfish in pond living upside down . Looks dead but still alive and swims briefly sometimes . Was on bottom of pond but now on surface so scales damaged/gone . Should I kill it ? If so, how please .

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.


I am very concerned about this fish. The signs you have described do sound to be terminal stages of an active disease process. If he was bottom sitting initially and is now "collapsed" at the top of the water column, I would double check your nitrate levels (if you haven't tested that parameter). Otherwise, we would have to consider that this fish could be suffering from anything from organ failure to bacteremia (especially suspicious if the damaged skin looks bruised or you can see increased blood vessel redness when examining him).


With a fish in this state, his prognosis is grave even with diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, euthanasia would likely be the kindest course of action for him. To do so, the easiest way would be to use clove oil. This is something we can buy OTC at the pharmacy or some grocery stores in the medicine aisle. To use the clove oil, you want to move the fish into a smaller tank (ie a gallon - to reduce the amount of oil needed). You can then make a mixture of 3 drops of clove oil into a half pint of water. Shake it thoroughly to mix the oil into the water. Add this to the tank and stir slowly. As the fish gets sleepy, add another 3 drops. The fish usually will go belly up (unconscious but not dead -which you can monitor via gill movement), so at that point add another 3 drops. You continue this slowly until the fish stops breathing and passes peacefully.


I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Have used oil of cloves as instructed ( in fact more oil as process seemed very slow . Fish breathing lightly . Taking a very long time -- is this usual ?

Hi Marjorie,

If this fish is as collapsed as you have reported, then I wouldn't be surprised if he has a delayed response. Generally speaking, we usually see this method take an around 30min to an hour (we have to do this slow since high doses of clove oil right off the bat would cause stress for the fish), but we can see a longer progression with collapsed fish who have low blood pressure. As this is an overdose of a fish anesthetic agent, we should continue as outlined above and as time passes and you increase the dose the respiration should continue to slow and the fish will pass.

Take care,
Dr. B.
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