I spent hours on the internet searching for some information on what to do when Spots got sick. Had I known the signs to look for, I think I could have caught it sooner. The symptoms of Septicemia that are listed on various sites and even on the back of anti-bacterial medication boxes, in my experience are the symptoms of an already progressed disease.
Over the past 4 months, Spots had gotten really big around his head. He wasn't swollen or bloated, but looked like he had really broad shoulders. It kind of reminded me of my brother after he lifts weights...he stands there with his shoulders all puffed up. I jokingly told my mom, Spots is a typical male and he's starting to look like one too. I didn't think much of this, except, he's getting bigger.
About 2 months ago he started to generate a very small lump on one side of his body, behind his left gill. When you looked at him straight on he was asymmetrical. I thought I was imagining things and thought maybe it's just him growing. I did read on various websites, a small lump is the early signs of a tumor and that not much can be done, so I decided to wait and see what would happen. Big mistake!
His lump, over the past 2 months got bigger and bigger. He was still active, eating, swimming, bugging Fishi, being his usual self. I didn't think much of it since he showed no changes in behavior. Until, 4 days ago, I noticed the lump had suddenly gotten really big and noticeable. After that, the rest of his symptoms came on really really fast (within 48hrs) until he passed away.
Early Septicemia symptoms to watch out for:
1. "Puffy" neck area, behind gills.
2. Swollen lump or bump localized to one side of the body. This is a good sign something is wrong. Some websites said it could be a tumor, but no one said a bacterial infection.
Timeline of his symptoms:
- 4 months before he died: He had grown and gotten "puffy" behind his gills.
- 2 months before he died: Small lump began to show up behind his left gill. He looked asymmetrical when you looked at him straight on.
- 48 hours before Spots died, he developed red streaks throughout his fins. Spots had red streaks on his bottoms fins, and on his top fin, there was a very faint brown discoloration in the scales at the bottom of the top fin.
- 12 hours after the red streaks developed, he swelled up, eyes bulged out and he started breathing very heavily, but was still active eating and swimming.
It was at this point that I treated him with Tetracycline Hydrochloride (API brand) to treat for a bacterial infection. The red streaks were a give away that it was an infection, but it was too late at this point.
- 24 hours later, he became lethargic, swelled up even more, would hide and just sit at the bottom of the tank. Occasionally he would come out, but definitely wasn't interested in eating.
- 12 hours after that, he was floating with his head down, still breathing heavily - I moved him out of the tank into a bowl. I was afraid of infecting Fishi and didn't want him to die in the tank with her. It was at that point that he turned, floating on his back. He had lost all balance and was heavily gasping for air (this was really painful to watch). He would occasionally thrash around and try to swim up for air, but couldn't.
I realized at that point that he was dying. I searched all over the internet for what to do to relieve his pain ASAP. I got mixed reviews about whether or not to freeze him. I decided to try it, placed him in a ziploc back with some tank water and placed him in a bowl in the freezer. After about 15 minutes, couldn't bear the thought of him freezing and took him out. I left him in the bowl, and about an hour later he stopped breathing. I don't know whether the freezing would have been better or not, but I was worried and felt absolutely useless.
I did read that clove oil is a great way to anesthetize them, but I called 5 stores (grocery stores, vitamen stores and drugstores), and none carried it. I think this is something I should order and keep on hand.
I do however have to admit, their water was not in the best of condition. The nitrate levels were high. I had 0% Nitrite levels, Ph was normal, and general water hardness was good, but Nitrates, not so good. I was so busy with school, that I forgot to change their water in time. In time, meaning once a month, which was way to long to wait to begin with. In a 16 gallon tank, with 2 goldfish, 25% of the water should be changed once every 2 weeks, if not sooner. So, I have learned my lesson the hard way. Had their water been in better condition, he might not have gotten so sick so fast. I have had fishi for 4 years, and spots for 3...so I thought I knew what I was doing, but, seems I didn't.
Anyways, I hope this post can help someone who has a goldfish with early onset Septicemia figure out what to do in time to save them.
Fishi, on the other hand has a small white bump/spot above her mouth. Last night it had a faint red streak on top of it. She definitely won't let me look at it well and I think I need to just grab her and look. It is the only spot she has, so it's not Ich (Ick) but it might be a fungus or parasites. It's not really fuzzy (but it looks like a little white strand is sticking out - maybe that's fuzzy), and she isn't itching it, and she's acting like her normal, always hungry cute self, so I'm not sure what it is, but I'm treating her with anti-bacterial (T.C. Tetracycline) and then Maracyn 2 (for fungus) after that. I've searched everywhere for something similar, and haven't found anything, so this is my best bet.
In my experience, my goldfish have never slowly started to behave sick. Spots had been sick back in February with Dropsy. Overnight he blew up like a balloon. It might have been the shock of moving them into a bigger aquarium or it might have been a parasite, but I set up a hospital tank for him, treated him with Api's General Cure and he got better in 2 weeks. This time, he got sick really fast and died unexpectedly.
I really didn't want to rehash all these horrible details, but I feel better writing it all out knowing that it might help someone else's Goldfish in the future.