What’s wrong with my gold­fish?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Fishkeeping Answers -

I won­der if you can di­ag­nose the prob­lem with this gold­fish? At first it had the ap­pear­ance of carp pox and I ex­pected it to go in due course but it has per­sisted for about 18 months. Re­cently there have been some red­dened erup­tions. The fish feeds well and does not ex­hibit any symp­toms of stress. ALEX LE­VACK, BY EMAIL


From your pho­tos, and due to the slow devel­op­ment of this con­di­tion, I’m pretty sure your gold­fish has some sort of be­nign tu­mour dis­ease.

Skin tu­mours, such as fi­bro­mas, are not un­com­mon in gold­fish, though most cases that I have seen were lim­ited to just one or a few lumpy masses, whereas your poor fish has many lumps!

Gold­fish (and other types of fish) can also de­velop pig­ment cell tu­mours. These in­clude melanomas (black tu­mours as­so­ci­ated with the black pig­ment cells of the skin) and ery­throphoro­mas (red pig­ment cell tu­mours). You men­tion the lumps ap­pear red­dish, so an ery­throphoroma could pos­si­bly be the cause.

Un­for­tu­nately, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to iden­tify the type or se­ri­ous­ness of a tu­mour based on vis­ual ap­pear­ances: in­stead it would be nec­es­sary to re­move a piece of tu­mour and sub­ject it to spe­cial lab­o­ra­tory tests and mi­croscopy (which would be ex­pen­sive and won’t lead to a cure).

Tu­mours can arise spon­ta­neously, and do not in­di­cate poor nu­tri­tion, bad hus­bandry or any other fault on the part of the fish­keeper. These tu­mours are not infectious so will not spread to other fish shar­ing the aquar­ium.

Some of these skin tu­mours are not par­tic­u­larly harm­ful, un­less they in­hibit vi­tal ar­eas, such as the gills, mouth or vent. Some tu­mours, how­ever, are lethal. None of them are cur­able, though, so chem­i­cal or other reme­dies sim­ply won’t work.

While your fish re­mains oth­er­wise healthy, swims nor­mally and has a good ap­petite then do noth­ing. If it starts to fail, though, you will have to con­sider eu­thana­sia.

Fin­gers crossed that your fish will re­main okay for many more months!

The lumps on Alex’s gold­fish haven’t both­ered it so far.

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