How To Tell If Your Goldfish Is Sick? Signs and Symptoms of Illness and Disease

You take care of your goldfish on a daily basis but do you really know how to tell if your goldfish is sick or what are the signs of illness and disease? Knowing the signs of sickness in goldfish is your first step in saving the life of your pet fish. Through careful observation is when you can properly diagnose the illness to be able to treat the illness or disease effectively.

Here are some signs of sickness of illness among goldfish you should look for:

Shubunkin - Know The Signs and Symptoms of Illness or Fish Diseases1. Your goldfish has white spots covering it’s body. This goldfish disease is known as ich ( Ichthyophthirius multifiliis ) white spot disease and you will need to begin treatment right away.

2. Your goldfish are usually active but now are sluggish. This could be due to a fish disease or poor water quality. Test your water quality right away such as pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

3. Your goldfish has bloody spots on the body. This could be caused by anchor worms which has now created a bacterial infection. It also could be ulcers forming. Observe goldfish, check for anchor worms and check water quality.

4. Your goldfish has bloody streaks on fins and tail. Check water quality immediately.

5. Your goldfish has ragged damaged fins. This could be caused by other fish nibbling at its tail and a bacterial infection has set it. Fin and tail rot is common among fish and you will need to begin treatment.

6. Your goldfish are seen gasping at the surface of the water. This can be either two things, lack of oxygen in the water or there could be parasites in the gills causing rapid breathing. Increase aeration in pond or aquarium and if this does not help seek fish medication for gill parasites. If left untreated your goldfish can die due to gill parasites.

7. Your goldfish has clamped fins. Clamped fins is a sign of stress in goldfish and other types of fish. Find out why your goldfish is stressed out. Is there bigger goldfish in the aquarium that is being aggressive? Have you tested your water quality to see if that may be the issue? Is your goldfish always fighting the current in your fish tank, does it have a spot to rest? By simply asking yourself some questions will help you discover the problem.

8. Your goldfish is scratching themselves on the aquarium gravel. This indicates the presence of parasites. Begin treatment right away.

9. You notice that your goldfish has one side of its stomach that is swollen. This may be goldfish dropsy a deadly bacterial infection and unfortunately it’s most likely that your goldfish will die from this.

10. Your goldfish has a white film on its eyes also known as cloudy eye. You will need to buy Melafix to treat cloudy eye in fish.

I hope these signs of sickness, illness or disease will help you in properly diagnosing goldfish that are sick. If you observe your goldfish while feeding them is when you can most of the time catch the early signs of sickness. Take this moment each day to see if your goldfish is acting normal, normal behaviour or any signs or symptoms of disease or parasites. Your goldfish can’t tell you that they are not feeling well so it rests on us through observation to properly care for them.


Jamie Boyle
The Goldfish Guy
“Helping Goldfish Owners With Advice, Fish Care and Fish Medication Treatments for Goldfish Diseases, Illnesses and Parasites”

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10 comments on “How To Tell If Your Goldfish Is Sick? Signs and Symptoms of Illness and Disease

  1. Candi on said:

    I hope you can help me – I have looked everywhere on-line for an answer and can't find one. My goldfish seems to have a greyish greenish kind of discolor right around it's mouth. Very slim line of discolor, but I noticed it when looking at him up close today. Do you know what could be causing this? Thanks!

  2. Goldfish Care on said:

    Candi,The first thing that comes to mind would be mouth rot that you are seeing on your goldfish. It shows up as a slight discolour around it mouth as you mentioned. Then the mouth of the goldfish, koi or other type of fish will slowly rot away.You can use Melafix to treat against mouth fungus, fin and tail rot and ulcers. It rapidly repairs damaged fins and more. I've used this type of fish medication for years and have had great results using it.Let me know how your goldfish is doing and if I can be of anymore help.Sincerely,Jamie BoyleThe Goldfish Guy

  3. SHACUR on said:

    I have had an outside 160 gal fish pond since December and I live in central Fla. I originally put some simple goldfish from 1 inch to 3 inches in and they have been there for about 2 months now. Yesterday I added 2 Shabumpkins and 2 fancitail that are about 2 or 3 inches. At first, everyone seemed inquisitive but then I noticed the larger goldfish chasing and acting aggresively to one of my fancitails to the point that they pinned it under a rock and it looked dead. I don't know how long it was there but it really looked like it had been chased into this corner and bullied. It it alive but acting very lethargic and I am worried about it. Last night when I found this situation, I put a piece of new patio screen into the pond to divide the fancitails from the rest. This morning it seems to be better a little, not dead, as I had expected. Is this behavior normal? They almost killed it. I don't know if it is male or female. I thought it was simple mating rituals at first but it became apparent that it was something too aggressive to the little fishy to handle. Any suggestions?

  4. Koi Fish Care Information on said:

    Your shubunkins and other goldfish in your outdoor garden pond may be attacking your fancy fantail goldfish as it may be injured. When another goldfish knows that a fish is injured it will pick at it aggressively.Larger, faster goldfish tend to pick on smaller slower fat bodied varieties of goldfish.Your goldfish are fairly small to be breeding but if they were stunted during growth they could be of age to breed. Sometimes during the breeding/courting it can be quite aggressive and sometimes the male goldfish or koi for example can actually kill the female as she's literally exhausted. The male goldfish or koi continually push the sides of the female causing her to release her eggs. It may be breeding but I doubt it as they are small.I hope this gives you some more information on what could be going on. What I would do is seperate the faster goldfish from the fancy fantails to stop the aggression.Find More Information On Koi Fish For Outdoor Garden Ponds at

  5. misslizzy88 on said:

    Jamie- What a great blog you have! I have an Organda Calico Goldfish that is eating quite well and looks very healthy. However, she (I think she is a she!)doesn't swim around like she used to and is usually under the cave I have in their tank, not moving very much. She doesn't gasp for air as far as I can see. I don't quite know what to do here. She is in with a Black Moor and a Red Cap who are very much the swimming piggies that Goldfish can be. Can you give me some insight on this? If you need more info, let me know. Thank you so much!

  6. Goldfish Care on said:

    Hi thanks you like my blog!What does your Oranda Calico Goldfish do?Is it always gasping at the surface of your aquarium?Does your goldfish eat at all? Is your goldfish showing any signs of illnesses or diseases from what you can see on it's body? Are her gills open and red?Have you tested the PH, Ammonia, Nitrite lately?If you can answer some of the above questions I may be able to help you.Sincerely,Jamie BoyleThe Goldfish Guy

  7. Elizabeth Daly on said:

    She eats well but then most of the time she lays at the bottom of the tank. She does not gasp at the top of the tank. Her body looks normal. I do not see any irregular spots or abnormal redness (She is bright Orange in color). I test quite frequently as I have always had high ammonia. Tests today showed Ammonia 1.0/ Nitrate 20/Nitrite 0
    My other Black Moor and Red Cap Organda are doing quite well. Recently I was told to add Aquarium Salt to the tank, as well as Zeolite Crystals to the Filter Cartriges to help with my high Ammonia. One thing that I am battling now is a cloudy tank. I don’t quite know what that’s about either. I was trying to think of what that could be… maybe too much salt or Zeolite Crystals? Anyway, I did a really good substrate cleaning yesterday and replaced one of the 2 filters in each of the 2 Penguin 200 filters I have. So I have 1 regular filter and 1 regular filter with Zeolite Crystals added in both filters. What do you think about everything I have done? And do you have any idea on what could be happening with my Calico Oranda? Thank you so much for being here Jamie!

  8. Hey

    My goldfish (the smaller 1 of 4) is showing signs of clamped fins and red areas on his skin. Doesn’t seem to be red spot, think It is more signs of bullying.

    I am thinking of sticking him in my tropical fish tank until he is no longer stressed and then reintroduce him to the goldfish tank when he is healthier?

    Any help would be appricaated.


  9. Great blog! But alas I can’t find an answer to my issue. I’ve hot a 200lt half wine barrel lined w pond plastic w goldfish in it. I had 4 goldfish in it for a couple of years w no filter and my fish seemed very happy w simple water changes and feeding. About a month ago i decided to purchase a filter and some quartz river stones. I cleaned out my tank and purchased a few extra fish. All was going along swimingly (hehe) until all of a sudden my fish began to die!!! 7 goldfish in 2 days. My pH and ammonia was fine, and the local aquarium shop said all the levels seemed okay too. However the fish seemed to have a flakey white film over them. One or two had been gasping at the surface for a little while. Any ideas? The aquarium suggested I use multicure and see if that works. Alas, no luck 🙁

  10. anonymous on said:

    I had five comet goldfish… They recently were sick; I thought they had ick and developed cloudy eyes too so I did multiple water changes and medicated them. Unfortunately they died 2 days ago. I have two other tanks and I’d like to transfer my orandas to the larger tank that my comets were in… how can I be sure the tank is safe to put them in it now? I’ve completely cleaned the tank out and allowed it to air dry; should I clean it with anything special or should I wait longer? And what about the decorations, filter pump, and gravel/stones? Should I even use them again? I definitely don’t want to lose them too 🙁

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