I am sorry to report that Fishnthings.co.uk is now closed. I am leaving these pages here incase this information can help you with your fishes. I suggest if you want to chat to someone or browse more advice you try the forum at KokosGoldfish.com, it specialises in Goldies, but you can get help there for any kind of fish. Try and get as much info as possible together before you post for help and I am sure someone will assist you.

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Possible cause
Clamped Fins
Fish usually clamp their fins when they are unhappy or experiencing irritation. In alot of cases this is the first sign that there is something wrong with your water parameters, perhaps a high level of ammonia or nitrites. if you have a test kit check to see what the problem might be, if you cannot afford a test kit do some frequent water changes over the next few days and see if the fish improves. It is worth closely looking at the fish to see if there are any other symptoms that might help diagnose the problem.


Yawning is often a sign of gill irritation and generally shows a problem with the gills. Fish do however yawn just as humans do, so it is a symptom when frequent. Fish often leave there mouth open when they have a rock stuck, so check that there is not an obstruction in the fishes mouth. Check your water paramaters and for the possibility of toxins in the water as this will irritate the fishes gills. When coupled with flashing and flicking it is worth checking for gill flukes.



All signs of irritation, look for other signs to help diagnose the problem! Fish can at any time flick or flash it has to be persistant to indicate problems, and then it is generally parasite based. It can be a sign of flukes , costia and a light salting can often help. Also check your water parameters as this can also be a sign of high nitrate levels.

Sand substrate can also cause flicking - small sand particles get stuck to the the fishes skin, flicking is a fishes way of ridding itself from the irritation. Goldfish are usually troubled by this and the only treatment is to change the substrate.

Eating Bubbles


Some fish just enjoy eating bubbles so it is not necessarily a sign of anything wrong. They also may eat bubbles to itch at annoyances in their gills or to help with Swim bladder or indigestion problems. Check the gills first to make sure they are a healthy cherry red. It can also be linked to a columnaris infection.

Head standing


Head standing can often be a sign of intestinal worms. If this seems unlikely check your water parameters. If the fish is spawning it may be tired, and if it has problems with its swim bladder it may be the result of trapped air. Head standing can also be a sign of toxic water and kidney problems.

Tail Standing


Also often linked to exhaustion after spawning, but water parameters may reveal toxic levels of nitrate etc, so check those too. Also check the gill colour which may indicate other problems.



If this problem seems to coincide with feeding your fish it is commonly caused by either too much food or food that floats. Try soaking your food in tank water before feeding it to your fish, and experiment with fresh foods and vary the diet. See the SBD section for more ideas. It can also be a sign of high salt levels if you salt your tank so if that is a possiblity water change to get your levels down. Water changes will also help if there are toxins present in the water. Some medications will also impact on the fishes air bladder, so again water changes and maintaining good water parameters will help.



Fish do sleep and they also slow down in colder water. Check your fish for other signs that something might be wrong. Check the gill colour is a nice healthy cherry red. Check your water parameters and double check any medications or foods you have recently added to the tank.

Listing to one side

If your tank is not lit from above and you use a light source to the side of the tank, the fish may be tilting as they gain their sense of "upright" from their light source. Check your water parameters and look for any other signs that something might be wrong. Blind fish often have such problems so check the eyes to see if anything is unusual.


Often occur after internal bacterial infections such as columnaris.
Whirling is usually a sign of Whirling Disease.
Not eating
Fish going off their food is a good indicator a problem is occuring. Check for obstructions/ lesions in or around the mouth. Also use the Poo diagnostic technique to gleem more information. Sometimes fish will not eat certain kinds of food, try them on peas or cocktail shrimp to test whether they are just being fussy.
Bent Spine
Bent spine can be caused by long term poor diet and a Vitamin C deficiency. Feed your fish occasionally vitamin C packed fruit or veg to make sure they are getting enough nutrients. Fish with extremely large fins as they get older can find it more difficult to support the weight of their fins. Stray electricity can also appear to curve the spine so check that is not a possibility. A bent spine can also be a sign of Tuberculosis but only when coupled with other symptoms. If the fish is female and there is a chance they may be pregenant it may be that one ovary is larger than the other and when the eggs develop the fish appears curved. The curvature may be genetic if young fish have it, be caused by injury, may be age related scoliosis ( in older fish) or the result of an internal tumour.
Gasping at Surface
Fish can do this when they have experienced a lack of oxygen. Sometimes this occurs after transportation. Make sure your aquarium has adequate surface disturbance. Some fish such as Bettas take air from the surface. Check the gill colour and water change if necessary. In a heavily planted tank, or a pond with a large amount of algea oxygen can be severley depleted over night by the plant life, morning gasping is often a sign of this occuring. Also if large amounts of plant life die the rotting process can cause a similar effect. Check also for signs of Acidosis.
Some of the fancy fish have very delicate eye areas and a bump, knock or losing an eye can occur. it is recommended that you set up a tank specifically for such fish with no sharp corners or objects. In lionhead goldfish the problem may be that their wen/head growth has got too large and will require trimming by an expert. Blindness can also be a sign of brain flukes.
White Spots
If the spots are like small grains of sand then it is normally Ich. Grey and greasy looking spots can often be lymphocystosis. On the gills it can be breeding stars. White fuzzy looking spots are often columnaris. Grey cottony looking growths are often Saprolegnia
White spots on head growth
Fish with wens or head growths can often have an uneven and pitted style of growth. However due to this they can get infected with bacterial infections, and it may be worth taking a Q-tip and soak it in peroxide and try and dislodge anything that appears caught in the growth. ( Take care not to get peroxide in the fishes eyes.)
White Spots on gills
In goldfish white spots on the gill plates are most commonly spawning tubercles. This indicates that a male is in breeding condition. Make goldfish develop rough growths at the leading edges of their pectoral fins and on their gill covers too.
Pitting or holes in head growth
In Oscars and Angels this is often hexamita.
Black spots
Usually as a result of ammonia spikes in the water, this actually causes the burns. Black is actually a sign of healing and they should disapear in a few weeks.
Red spots
If along the back and under the chin this could be costia. If the spots appear to be under the scales it is more likely to be something bacterial.
Red sores
An Ulcer is an open sore, red in colour with a white edge - also it may be surrounded by bruising, and if very deep may expose underlying red muscles. It is often associated with a bacterial infection caused by Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, Flavobacterium and Mycobacterium species. Fish are best treated in isolation.
Red streaks
Normally red streaks are caused by ammonia and nitrite reaching high levels in the tank. Often it is coupled by the gills appearing to be very dark red. Other causes can be Septicemia. or Red Pest disease.
Black streaks
Often a result of ammonia spikes or other toxins causing burns on the fish and now healing.
White specks in eye
Dead Brain Flukes
Bulging eyes
Often a result of Dropsy or Popeye.
Swollen body
Can be a result of dropsy or constipation, if it is one-sided please read the reasons for a bent body.
Scales sticking out like a pine cone
Scales can stick out on fish due to genetics mainly in Pearscale fish. However pineconing is usually a sign of dropsy.
Going thin
Fish are normally skinny in the spring after not being fed all winter. They can also be slimmer if they are competing for food with alot of other fish. however it can also be a sign of wasting disease
Losing scales
Sometimes fish will lose scales on objects in their pond or tank while they are spawning or even normally whilst swimming. It is also possible to lose scales if they are flicking or rubbing. It can also be a associated with parasitic conditions such as Henneguya but check for evidence of nodules around the gills.
Sudden death
Apparently one of the most likely causes for sudden death is having a stone caught in the mouth, but in my experience it seems to be old age or an ammonia or nitrite spike. It can be caused by the shock of large water changes or by a lack of oxygen ( if moving big fish into a small container for maintenance etc.) Sometimes the water supply has become toxic due to chemicals, or a change in the water quality caused by the water authority.
Fin rot
If the fins appear red and inflamed this can be caused by high concentrate of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in the water. If you salt your tank it may be that you have lost track of the current level of salt, water change immediately. It can also be caused by parasitic and bacterial conditions - Bacterial Fin Rot.
Fin damage Fin damage can occur in community tanks often due to fin nipping. ( Tetras and their relatives have very sharp teeth). Although clean to start with this can then become infected. An anti-bacterial remedy can be added to help the wound heal cleanly though eventually it may be necessary to separate the fish from the fin nippers.
Fin shredding or splitting
Often this is due to poor water conditions in the aquarium. It can be a result of high nitrates. A wide swing in pH can also cause problems noticable in the fins. They can however split when the fish is very active or during spawning, a little salt to therapeutic levels will aid the reknitting of the fin.
Changing colour

In goldifsh it is very common for the fish to change colour completely naturally. Young fish with black areas as they grow older often lose this colouration. An orange to white change is also perfectly normal. Pigment loss is often a genetic trait.

Fish in ponds often go pale during the winter. Check the water conditions and make sure all their dietry needs are being met.

In other kinds of fish, particularly in fish recently added to the tank a change in colour can be a stress response. Bright colours are sign of a healthy happy fish, the stress of being in a new environment can cause a fish to pale.

See Tumours ( including pigment cells tumours) or cauliflower disease. If on top of the head, fish can grow a wen, a perfectly normal (genetic) growth caused by the skin continuing to grow while the skull of the fish does not.
Reddening at bottom of pectoral fin
Often a sign of internal bacterial infection. Treat with antibiotics.
Pale gills, heamoraging on eyes.
Can be caused by a Vitamin A deficiency, improve fishes diet.