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Mysterious white spots on Goldfish fins


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Hello! I made a post about this about a month ago but have since acquired several new pictures from throughout the internet and am reposting a mega thread regarding this mysterious presentation.

I have had a fan tail goldfish presenting with slightly raised white spots on his tail fin for approximately 6 months. They seem to vary in severity depending on the day but they are always there. He behaves and eats normally. Water parameters of the 55g aquarium are stable, usually around 20-30ppm nitrate with a 50% water change weekly. Temperature is room at about 70 give or take a few degrees depending on the day. They do not seem to spread to other fish. I have done extensive research on these spots and what is fascinating is the quantity of other folks dealing with this same problem, but the complete lack of answers/understanding of what is going on. Most seem to have the same story, bumps that last for several months on otherwise healthy fish. It seems the general consensus I’ve found is they are normal and not harmful. I’ve heard some people say they are brought on by higher nitrate weeks. From a purely superficial standpoint I would like to remedy this issue. Here is a pretty comprehensive collection of my own and others photos on the internet of these spots. If anyone has any experience with this PLEASE respond! There seems to be a real lack of education on what these are.







Edited by DustinJWagner
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@nabokovfan87I was reading about something similar the white spots on the fin rays can be linked to the start of fin rot in fish it's more than likely cause by your high nitrates if they were 30ppm after a 50% water change i would increase water changes to try and keep them below 20ppm I would also add some floating plants they are excellent nitrate sponge's I use water lettuce on my gold fish tank it doesn't get eaten spreads really quickly @DustinJWagner

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Goldfish can get cysts on their fins, but they usually don’t look like this.  Hard to tell without crisp focus (believe me, I know how hard it is to get good, crisp pics of fish 🤦🏻‍♀️ I have a ridiculous number of blurry fish pics I need to delete).  It does look like some kind of infection - either bacterial or fungal.  Epistylus and Ich lesions don’t typically persist without either spreading or clearing in my experience.  So bacterial or fungal are most likely. I wish first fish tanks came with a tiny microscope and stain kit.  😆 

Short of having cytology samples, I would recommend keeping the water as pristine as possible (really need to get it down lower because 30 ppm after a 50% WC means it was about 60 ppm before, so more frequent, regular water changes are in order, possibly add more biofiltration, too), adding aquarium salt at least at 1 tablespoon per gallon, and see what happens.  If you can add some floating plants like water lettuce and fence them off so they don’t get eaten, that could be very helpful.  Or add some lucky bamboo or pothos growing emerse.  You can make a floating cage for the water lettuce - look at @Fish Folk’s floating breeder net.  He’s made some from craft mesh, zip ties, and styrofoam.  Or use an HOB filled with blocks of filter foam to hold plants growing emerse.

Take a look at my 75 G Jack Dempsey tank link below for ideas on growing emerse.  I don’t think goldfish will completely destroy stems of lucky bamboo that are down in the water as long as they can’t get to the roots in a pot.  Somebody correct me if that’s wrong, I e not had goldfish in years and never tried them with lucky bamboo stems in the tank but my Jacks don’t even pull the roots off the stems that are exposed so hopefully goldfish won’t strip the exterior off the bamboo.  If you use pebbles make VERY CERTAIN they are at least double or triple the size you think could potentially fit in a determined adult goldfish’s mouth.

Until you can get plants growing, more water changes are in order and maybe lighten up on feeding for a little while.  That can do wonders for reducing bioload temporarily.  Keep us posted after you do enough water changes to keep the nitrates at 20 ppm or below for at least 3-4 weeks in a row.  Post sooner if the spots get worse.  We’ll brainstorm on what treatments to start.

Edit to add:  Maybe I misunderstood, are the nitrates at 20-30 before or after the water changes?  If before, that’s not so bad.  If after, then more biofiltration or nitrate export via emerse or floating plants would definitely be helpful.

Edited by Odd Duck
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