How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask CarynP625 Your Own Question
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 665
Experience:  dasdasd
Type Your Vet Question Here...
CarynP625 is online now

Our fish seems to have a lump on one side of him and isn’t

Customer Question

Our fish seems to have a lump on one side of him and isn’t swimming very week just floating a lot
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Where on the fish's body is the lump? When did you first notice it?
Customer: we only noticed this morning and now he’s not swimming very well. I think he’s on his last legs but I promised my son we would ask what it could be as he is very upset ( he is 9)
JA: And what's the fish's name and age?
Customer: fish is called Henry fantail goldfish). We had him in October last year and he was a little one and had grown quite a lot now
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know about Henry?
Customer: Not really. He had a food block in when we went away over half term and that is still in his tank
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Virtual-mod replied 18 days ago.

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
I have paid for an answer so I’d like one yes please
Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.

Hello and thanks for posting your question on My name is***** and I have been a licensed and accredited veterinarian in the US for over 22 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. JustAnswer is a question-and-answer service, not a veterinary telemedicine or emergency service. On this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice based on the information you provide, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship and we cannot examine your pet, we are unable to provide definitive diagnoses, prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For any of those you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. If your pet has a serious illness or life-threatening emergency, I strongly recommend you obtain hands-on veterinary care with a local veterinarian or veterinary emergency service as soon as possible. I am happy to chat with you via the JustAnswer app via text. For US based clients, if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

Thanks again for posting your question, I'm so very sorry that your fantail goldfish Henry is under the weather having developed a lump on one side and floating but not swimming well. I have some questions that will help me get a better idea of the fish’ environment and what may be going on with your fish:

-What are the current tank water quality values (specifically ammonia and nitrite, though pH and nitrate are helpful as well)? If you haven’t already tested, please test at least ammonia and nitrite and share those results with me, thanks.

-What is the tank volume, temperature and what type of filtration do you have on your tank?

-Are there any treatments or medications in the water or have any been recently used?

Thanks very much for providing additional information, it is very helpful for me to try and figure out what is going on with your fish and the history information will help me to do that.

If you are able to upload a photo or video that might be helpful for me to see what you are seeing in terms of his cloudy eyes. If you can try to share an in focus, close up photo that is most helpful though I do appreciate the challenges of fish photography. Use the paperclip icon below to attach a photo or video. Note that uploads need to be less than 5 Mb in size to upload properly.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

Sorry, meant to say if you are able to upload a photo or video that might be helpful for me to see what you are seeing in terms of the lump that Henry has developed on his side. Sometimes the look and location of a swelling can help to give a suggestion as to the possible cause.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

For any sick fish, I recommend ruling out environmental problems first as a cause of the signs you are seeing. Built up levels of ammonia and nitrite, in particular, can poison your fish and make them sick. You may see signs such as loss of appetite, lying on side or on the bottom, floating, skin ulceration, discoloration of skin or fins (white patches, reddening of fins or fin bases), eye problems (swelling, cloudiness), tail fraying, lethargy, piping at surface, etc. It is vital to do water testing to know if the water quality is good or if it needs to be addressed.

I would start right away by testing the water for ammonia and nitrite using an aquarium test kit. If you have the ability to also test for pH, nitrate, KH and GH that would also be recommended. If the values are out of range, e.g. ammonia or nitrite are above 0 ppm or nitrate is above 20 ppm, then perform a 30% water change with water that has been treated with a water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and detoxifies ammonia. Also important to check that the water temperature and check that the filter is working properly and exchanging and aerating the water properly.

Some pet stores will do free water testing but that isn't convenient especially if you need to do repeated testing. Home options for water quality testing in the UK include Interpet's Easy Test Complete Aquarium Dip Test Kit or King British's 6 in 1 Water Test Strips for around £12-15 per bottle. The strips test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and water hardness (KH and GH), so these would be your best value.

If ammonia, nitrite or nitrate values are elevated, then I would recommend a regimen of water quality testing and, if needed, water changes using water that has been treated with a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines.

-If ammonia or nitrites are not zero but in the 0-0.25ppm, then perform a 25-30% water change. Recheck values daily (in the AM) and water change if values are still 0.25ppm.

-If ammonia or nitrites are 0.50ppm or higher, then perform a 25-30% water change in the AM and another water change in the PM. Recheck values daily (in the AM) and water change if values are still 0.50ppm, continue with twice daily water changes. If the values have dropped to 0.25ppm, once daily water change is ok.

-Once AM readings are 0 ppm for both ammonia and nitrite, you can back off the frequency of water quality testing and water changes to every 3 days.

-Once AM readings remain 0 ppm for two consecutive tests (6 days), then you can back off water changes to weekly and testing to twice monthly.

To help boost the development of your biological filtration, you can purchase and use a commercial source of beneficial bacteria. You add it initially based on the volume of the tank and then with each subsequent water change (based on the volume of the water change). With any of these products, make sure they are well within date, that they are stored in a dark and cool location and that you shake the bottle well before dispensing.

Commercial sources of beneficial bacteria

Dr. Tim’s Aquatics ONE and ONLY Live Nitrifying Bacteria

Fluval Cycle Biological Enhancer

Seachem Stability

Microbe-Life Aqua Balance

MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria (FW Only)

API Quick Start or Stress Zyme

Tetra SafeStart Plus (FW Only) or FilterActive

Depending upon your tank size, once you get water quality back under control, you should institute a regular schedule of water changes and tank maintenance. If the tank is less than 20 gallons (75 litres), then weekly 25% water changes are recommended. If your tank is larger and the ammonia and nitrite tests remain 0 ppm after 2 weeks, you could do water changes every 2 weeks.

If using a sponge filter, it should be rinsed out weekly, if using a power filter then media should be cleaned every 2-4 weeks depending upon the size and the amount of fish in the tank. And gravel should be siphoned once monthly to remove accumulated debris. This can be done with a manual aquarium Gravel Vacuum in concert with regular water changes since it removes water in addition to waste from the gravel. I don't recommend doing all the tank maintenance at the same time, to avoid disrupting the biological filtration (good bacterial biofilms) too much. Siphon 1/2 the gravel one week and the other half in a week or two.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

So if Henry has a swelling on one side and is floating, this suggests he has an abnormal amount of internal gas, either from too much gas he is unable to pass (constipated, maldigestion, infection) or displacement of internal organs (infection, trauma, torsion).

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

There are many reasons why your fish might have an unusual swelling. Some of these include an injury, constipation or GI blockage, a local infection (abscess), a systemic infection (“Dropsy”), a tumor, or abnormal gas (either overfilled or displaced swim bladder or a gas pocket from injury or infection) or reproductive status (gravid) or reproductive disorder (egg binding). Ways to try and determine which include looking at where the swelling has formed, is it on one side of both, how quickly it has formed and how long it has been present, whether there is any discoloration of the skin and scales above the swelling and whether the fish has any other unusual or abnormal signs, such as changes in swim, eating or breathing patterns. For a definitive diagnosis of what’s causing a swelling, the fish would need imaging by a veterinarian, usually done under sedation. Ultrasound (which uses sound waves) or x-ray/radiographs are two imaging methods that a vet could use. However if you can provide some more information and some images, I can try to narrow down the list of what might be going on and suggest a course of action. Thanks.

There are also many reasons why your fish may not be able to swim in a normal upright position. These include injury, disease, nutritional and environmental causes. Some examples of disease are infections or tumors of the swim bladder, the organ that helps the fish float neutrally in the water or an adjacent internal swelling (constipation, organ torsion, abscess or tumor) that may be pressing upon the swim bladder. If the swim bladder is overinflated or malpositioned you will sometimes see a swelling on one or both sides of the fish.

Injury to muscle or spinal column is another cause. Looking for signs of injury such as damage to the fish’ flanks, skin or fins is helpful.

Feeding your fish a balanced diet that is in-date and formulated for their species helps to rule out nutritional causes of swim or balance abnormalities.

Problems in the environment, such as too low or too high gas saturation, or too much nitrogen containing waste (such as ammonia and nitrite) can cause these issues as well. Doing water quality testing with a testing kit, including ammonia and nitrite as a minimum, but also pH and nitrates, would be good to make sure the water conditions are good for your fish is a good place to start.

If the ammonia and nitrites are 0.25ppm or above there is a problem with the tank environment and I recommend performing a 25-30% water change as soon as you can, using water that has been treated with a water conditioner to remove both chlorine and chloramines.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

As mentioned, there are a number of things that can cause abnormal buoyancy. Water quality issues can be a cause of abnormal buoyancy in the water. Start by testing your water quality with a water testing kit. Minimum things to test are ammonia and nitrites, but also helpful to test for nitrates and pH. If the levels are normal, then water quality is not the cause. Make sure your filter and bubbler are in proper working order and that you are not seeing small bubbles on the surfaces of the tank. This might mean the water is supersaturated with gas. If this is the cause, you’ll need to do some maintenance on the filter and find the source of the incoming air.. Many times it is a small hole in a line causing air to be sucked into the filter.

Sometimes abnormal buoyancy can be related to indigestion or constipation. In that case, you can try fasting your fish for three days. Don’t worry, fish have reserves and will be fine not eating for three days. At the same time, slowly raising the tank temperature to 75-77F (24-25C) degrees by increasing 1-2 degrees or so per day, can help increase the speed of digestion, helping whatever is in the gut to pass. Feeding your fish a green pea can help with constipation. They are palatable and full of fiber. To help prevent constipation and/or ingestion of gulped air at the surface you can gently wet the food before feeding or feed some slowly sinking food items rather than floating ones.

You can feed a couple of peas to your goldfish once weekly to increase fiber and help treat or prevent constipation. Best to use frozen peas as they are frozen at the peak of freshness. Remove a couple of peas from the freezer and defrost in a small cup of warm (not hot) tap water. It won’t take long to defrost, only a couple of minutes. Remove the skin of the pea by making a small slice with a paring knife or scissors. Discard the pea skin and you are left with two pea halves which you can drop into the tank near your fish. I recommend not adding all the pieces until you see how hungry or interested your fish is. Skim out any uneaten pea pieces.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

A short term Epsom salt bath, done outside the tank, not in the primary tank, can sometimes help with constipation as the Epsom salts can act as a laxative. Mix 1 level Tablespoon of unscented Epsom salt into 1 gallon (4 liters) of tank water in a separate container until full dissolved. (You will need to add an equal amount of conditioned replacement water back into the main tank to make up for the removed water used for the bath since once the bath is done, the Epsom salt water should be discarded, NOT added back into the main tank.) Add a bubbler or airstone and move the fish from the main tank to the container with the Epsom salt solution and allow the fish to swim around for 15 to 30 minutes. If the fish gets very agitated before the full time or the fish is seen to have defecated while in the bath, move the fish back to the main tank.

If these do not help with the floating and water quality is normal, then it is possible that your fish has either an organ torsion (twist) or an internal infection. While there is not much you can do, apart from surgery, for an organ torsion, you can try to treat an internal (bacterial) infection with a tank treatment. First line treatment would be a combination of salt therapy and, if the water quality is normal, a botanical antimicrobial such as API Melafix. These are added to and left in the tank. 

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

Longer term, immersion salt therapy (using sea salt or aquarium salt, sometimes called tonic salt, but NOT iodized table salt or Epsom salts) can help support your fish to heal and fight infection and can help them with osmoregulation (movement of fluid across body membranes). It also helps prevent some secondary medical problems that can develop from elevated nitrites and nitrates in the tank water. This therapy, unlike the Epsom salt bath, is added to the main tank and left in as a prolonged therapy. Salt is very safe to use in low levels with goldfish.

Recommended amount of salt is:

-Aquaria: 1 level Tablespoon of aquarium or sea salt for every 5 gallons (19 litres) of water. Salt is added one time only. But once the initial dose is added, additional salt should be added when you do water changes to replace what was removed.

Mix salt in some tank water outside of the tank (e.g. in a cup or bucket) and, after it is fully dissolved, add the salt water mix back into the tank. If you have a sump or external filter these are nice places to add the salt as it will help distribute the salt evenly in the tank. If not, you can sprinkle the saltwater over the top of the tank and then gently mix with a net at the surface. No need to vigorously mix as this may disturb your fish. Salt therapy is typically left in for at least 10-14 days but can be extended indefinitely if needed (for example with skin wounds, use until they are completely healed). I like to use it until any wounds are completely healed.

Perform regular water changes as needed. When you do a water change during salt therapy, please remember to add salt back in with the added water as you have taken some salt out with the discarded water. You should add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per gallon (1/8 teaspoon of salt per liter) of replacement water.

Once you are done with therapy, perform a 25% water change. After that, routine weekly water changes will continue to decrease the amount of salt in the tank over time.

Salt therapy can be used at the same time as other therapies, such as antibiotics or homeopathic remedies (like API Melafix). Carbon/activated charcoal does not need to be removed during salt therapy but should be removed during any other in-tank therapy.

I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information but, in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I look forward to further connecting with you about your fantail goldfish Henry. I sincerely ***** ***** both the best. Thanks again for posting your question to Sincerely, ***** *****

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
He still keeps swimming about and seems to be a little more active than yesterday but it’s all very odd. We have tried to sort the water and it seems a little better today.
Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.
Hello and thanks for the photos and update. I am glad he's a little more active. What is going on with the water (you mentioned you tried to sort the water) - can you share your most recent water quality results? Thanks.
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I dont have any ph results as my husband put some fresh water in with the older water and even though he sorted it out chemically(it was done in a rush as safe as he could do in ashort space of time)as my son was distraught about his fish. I would t normally follow it up but it took so long to get him a goldfish due to restrictions we are doing our very best to keep him alive. I think he threw all the ph papers away
Expert:  CarynP625 replied 17 days ago.

So I doubt that pH is the primary problem. Usually high or low pH is a reflection of another water issue in the tank such as too much nitrogenous waste, insufficient aeration, using water devoid or deficient in sufficient minerals or alkalinity, etc.

So if you have the ability to recheck the water and share those results with me (you can always write down the results to keep track of water quality) at some point, that would be most helpful as I cannot make specific recommendations unless I know what is off about the water parameters. The most common cause of abnormal floating or lethargy in fish is usually a water quality issue so correcting the underlying issue, typically with increased frequency of partial water changes, can be quite helpful.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need any clarification from the instructions I provided earlier regarding how to approach abnormal water quality issues as well as how to proceed with tank maintenance to help keep the water clean. In the meantime I also recommend starting treatment with salt in the tank (aquarium or sea salt, not Epsom salts). I don't recommend making any rapid changes in pH as this can adversely affect your fish. Any pH changes should be done slowly and by correcting any underlying issues rather than just by adding buffers or acidifying agents.