Mouth rot? Help please - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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Mouth rot? Help please

For the past couple of months I have been doing maintenance on a local nonprofit's aquarium. The aquarium had severely deferred maintenance before I started doing it. Also, one of the goldfish was suffering from what I suspected as fin rot when I first started taking care of the aquarium. I treated all of the aquarium with maracyn II andi t seemed to clear up. Now, I suspect that one of the goldfish has mouth rot. I've posted pictures below. The fish has also experienced scale loss on one side of its body (maracyn II treatment was about 6 weeks ago)

Would you think that this is mouth rot? What should I use to treat it? (I've kept aquariums for many years, but never had to deal with any illness other than ich)

1. What is the size of your tank?

55 gallons

2. What are your water parameters? State the brand of test kit used.

All within normal, safe limits.

3. Is your aquarium set up freshwater or brackish water?


4. How long the aquarium has been set up?

5 years -- deferred maintenance for the past two. Began doing regular, monthly water changes 2 months ago.

5. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?

3 goldfish. Approx 5 inches in length each. 5 years

6. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)?


7. What temperature is the tank water currently?

Within normal limits for goldfish

8. Are there live plants in the aquarium?


9. What filter are you using? State brand, maintenance routine and power capacity.

Pengiun 500 biowheel filter.

10. Any other equipment used (aside from heater and filter which are two very important components of the tank)?

11. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? What is your lighting schedule (assuming you do not rely on sunlight for our viewing pleasure)?

no, lights on for 8 hours a day

12. When did you perform your last water change and how much water was changed? How often do you change your water? Do you vacuum the substrate?

3 weeks ago, 50%. Yes, substrate is vacuumed.

13. What foods do you provide your fish? What is the feeding schedule?

SInking pellets once per day. frozen green peas once per month

14. What unusual signs have you observed in your fish?

Previous fin rot; now mouth rot?

15. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? If so, what treatments did you use? State your reasons for planning ahead of proper diagnosis.

previously treated with maracyn II for fin rot.

Previous illness that I diagnosed as fin rot and treated with maracyn ii. This has since cleared up, but is now reappearing in a different fin.

new symptoms:

Eric2OO2 is offline  
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 02:07 PM
Hi eric and welcome to the forum. Ay yi yi. That poor goldfish has some serious septicemia, probably brought on from ammonia/nitrate poisoning. Poor baby.

Based on the appearance, I would suggest API Triple Sulfa as the antibiotic of choice, as it is effective for this type of septicemia. If this fails, you may need to try Seachem Kanaplex, an antibiotic that absorbs wel into the system (nearly all antibiotics do not) through skin and gills. You may also wish to add API Stress Coat which will help soothe their gills and skin from the ammonia burning.

I'm really, really glad that you are doing maintenance on the tanks of these guys and I understand that you are doing this on your own time. That is really generous of you! However, goldfish are incredible ammonia factories. They put out so much ammonia that it's insane. By the way, are you sure about the filter? I'm not seeing a Penguin 500, only a 350 or an Emperor 400. Depending on the filter and its capacity, you may need to talk to the organization and see if they would be willing to upgrade the filter. With goldfish, it's best to generously overfilter.

Now here's the catch: because of their incredible ammonia output, the water in a goldfish aquarium pretty much always needs to be changed weekly. Yeah. I know you're doing this on a volunteer basis so that makes this tough. Here's another catch: the type of goldfish that are in that tank can get up to a foot long and generally do much better in ponds over 300gal.

Sooooo, based on that, I'm wondering . . . do you think the organization would be open to rehoming the goldfish and getting smaller fish that do not produce as much ammonia and therefore would require less maintenance?
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the reply. I've had aquariums since I was a kid, and I have never seen a fish in such bad shape as this guy. I wish they would have called me when they first noticed that the illness was returning. I will direct them to go to petsmart and purchase the API triple sulfa. Is this a better med than maracyn II? You are right about the filter. It is actually a penguin 350, but is rated for aquariums to 70 gallons. I guess the high ammonia caused by goldfish may call for something even stronger.

There are 3 goldfish in the aquarium. The one pictured and two smaller ryukins. I will talk to them about donating the goldfish after they are well and maybe getting some tropical, community fish. I actually did not do the water change as anticipated today because I thought the extra stress would have been harmful. If I had known this was caused by ammonia, I would have went ahead and completed the water change. I've had various aquariums (both fresh and marine) over the years, but never had any problems like this in my tanks.

Thanks again for the assistance!
Eric2OO2 is offline  
post #4 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 02:41 PM
Yeah, an ammonia problem this bad is usually only seen in goldfish because of their ability to produce it. If you weren't doing water changes, they'd probably be dead by the end of the year.

Maracyn II will work, if you still have some and want to use it. The only reasons I hesitate to suggest it are because A) it is not effective in high pH B) most bacteria have developed a resistance to it and C) it can harm the kidneys.

If the goldfish are rehomed, then the Penguin 350 is more than sufficient. It's interesting, in the pics, the goldy looked like a long-bodied comet. In that case, the ryukins will only get around 8" tops and would be fine, space-wise in a 55gal.

Yeah, when I was wintering my pond fish in a 55gal, I had a canister filter rated for 100gals. There were two 3" koi and one 3" comet goldfish. Even with the canister filter and weekly 40% water changes, I still got 40ppm ammonia.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Oh no, you are probably right about the type of the pictured goldfish. The two others, the ryukins, arent pictured.

Thanks for the help! I am not sure if this poor guy is going to pull through. He was still active when I was there earlier today, but looks awful.

Edited to add: I'll ask them to buy the triple sulfa. We used all of the maracyn ii in the last treatment and it sounds like the sulfa will be better anyway.
Eric2OO2 is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 10-18-2013, 03:03 PM
Good luck! I think what you're doing for these fish is awesome. Don't hesitate to let us know if you need more help.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-28-2013, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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I treated the aquarium with four doses of triple sulfa. The final dose was given on Thursday, and I completed a 25% water change (as directed by the box) on Friday. When should the fish appear to look better? I think he shows some improvement. For instance, I do not think he is nearly has red. The staff at the nonprofit does not think he looks any better at all.

Am I correct that this is not contagious? The other fish appear fine, but the nonprofit staff is worried that they are going to get sick. I've expressed that without better maintenance and a lower bioload, then all the fish will develop and continue to have problems.

They are fine with finding the fish a new home, but I am afraid that will be difficult with his current condition.

Eric2OO2 is offline  
post #8 of 8 Old 10-29-2013, 12:29 AM
It is okay to treat for another 2 doses if needed or even up to another full 4 doses with Triple Sulfa.

Yes, septicemia is not really contagious in this situation because it was caused by ammonia poisoning, although, as you correctly pointed out, if the conditions don't improve then all of the fish have the potential to develop it as well. If the septicemia was caused by a bacterial infection, THEN it would be potentially contagious.

If the staff is really worried about a tank epidemic, it may be necessary to find them homes and keep the one fellow alone for treatment. While goldfish are social and like company, they don't pine away if they are lone like schooling fish (tetras, danios).

Again, you are doing a wonderful job with this tank. :)
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