A goldfish is a classic family pet, whether you choose one from a store or win it at the state fair. Caring for a dying goldfish can be tricky since these piscine pets don't make noise to indicate that something's physically wrong. Instead, fish owners need to keep a close eye on their pets' environment, which means the aquarium or tank where he resides, the water in which he swims, and his daily diet.
Can you revive a dying goldfish?
The first step to take as you work to revive a dying goldfish is to consider his home. A listless swimmer may be housed in a glass bowl, which is the wrong type of container. A typical fishbowl — or worse, a plastic bag — doesn't allow enough oxygen for your fish to breathe or the space she needs to stretch her gills and zoom about. Your best bet is to nix the bowl and reinstall your fish in a proper aquarium that contains enough water for her to swim. A good rule of thumb is 3 gallons of water for every inch of fish you own.
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Gauge the water quality
Filling your fish's tank with plain ol' tap water isn't going to cut it. In fact, poor water quality is the top reason fish fall ill and contract disease, which means you could end up with a dying goldfish on your hands. To fix this situation, ask your fish's vet or check with a reputable pet store about liquid test kits that can determine water quality. By using this kit, you'll be able to measure the water's alkalinity and pH balance as well as its nitrate and ammonia levels.
The required pH level in your tank's water varies for each fish type, but generally, you should check the pH daily for the first month you own your fish and then weekly after that. Before you fill the tank, your home's tap water may need treatment, especially if it contains chlorine (this substance can kill fish). You local fish store or fish vet can guide you to the correct chemicals to use so the water is safe for your pet.
A dying goldfish may be eating the wrong type of flakes or pebbles, which can cause a vitamin deficiency that may lead to a weakened immune system. This is particularly true if the fish food you're using has been sitting around for a year or longer. Once fish food is opened, it should be used within six months or else discarded in favor of newer, fresher flakes.
Food storage is another factor when it comes fish health. Always store your pet's food in a well-sealed container and keep it in a cool, dark spot. Don't sprinkle fish food with a heavy hand. This practice muddies your fish's water, so serve only what he can consume in 30 seconds.
Add the right filter
Without a filter in your fish's tank, your pet will end up swimming around in a nasty (and even dangerous) mix of dirty water, and the end result could be a dying goldfish. A good filter will remove bits of waste, and an air pump is critical for providing your fish with enough oxygen. Another way to improve your fish's living environment is to add live plants, which not only contribute to oxygen levels but also provide nooks where your tiny guy can hide out and rest.
Check with the vet
Don't wait until you notice your dying goldfish is having trouble swimming or eating before seeking medical care. Since medications from the pet store aren't considered the best route, it's better to make an appointment with a specialist instead. Fish can actually be sedated and can even undergo surgery if necessary so head to your vet for the proper diagnosis and treatment.