As explained in “A Closer Look at Tail and Fin Rot – Part 1 (Symptoms & Causes),” tail and fin rot is a symptom of a serious bacterial infection. Understanding that basic point is key to understanding the reasons behind the treatment.
Affected goldfish need to be removed from the tank and put into a treatment tank. (Some people refer to a treatment tank as a hospital tank, isolation tank or quarantine tank. These names are interchangeable.)
Any small tank fitted with a box filter and containing no ornaments or plants is suitable as a treatment tank.
The reasons for isolating the affected fish are:
- to help prevent the spread of secondary infections to other fish in the aquarium
- because one of the treatments is an antibiotic that will either wipe out or decimate the good bacteria population on biological filters
- it’s easier to keep treatment tank water in tip-top condition
- there is reduced (zero if it’s only one fish) chance of fighting or bullying causing further problems
The only other thing to do before commencing treatment is to raise the water temperature a couple of degrees in the treatment tank. The bacteria that cause tail and fin rot prefer cooler water.
There are two separate parts to successfully treating tail and fin rot: one is to treat the main tank, the other is to treat the affected goldfish in the treatment tank.
To treat the main tank, change the water, test the water quality and make any improvements that are necessary, and make sure the goldfish are receiving a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet. Also make sure there is no rotting plant or food material in the gravel at the bottom of the aquarium.
To treat the affected goldfish, put a teaspoon of aquarium salt in for every gallon of water in the treatment tank. Salt is a natural antiseptic and has wound-healing properties.
The other treatment, as already mentioned is antibiotic. The most common ones used to treat the bacteria behind tail and fin rot are tetracycline, chloramphenicol and oxytetracycline. Dosing instructions will be provided with the antiboitics, most of which come as commercial brands with user-friendly labels.
Obviously most treatment tanks are small, and some of the dosing instructions may be for larger quantities of water. A handy tip is to pour 10 spoonfuls of water into a container, then add the antibiotic as stated on the label. To dose the smaller quantity of water in the treatment tank, just use the same spoon to dole out 10ths of the large dose of antibiotic, until the correct amount is in the treatment tank.
One other handy tip is to completely ignore the length of treatment stated on the label. Continue the treatment until tail and fin re-growth is noticeable. Stopping treatment before this may mean the bacteria have been knocked down, but not finished off.
One proviso is that if the treatment has gone on for 3 times the length stated on the label, it is probably not working. When this happens, change to a different treatment.
At all times, make sure the water quality in the treatment tank is what is should be.
No secrets here. Keep the water quality good, feed a healthy balanced diet, don’t overfeed, don’t have too many fish in the tank, keep the temperature steady, quarantine new goldfish, and make sure all the goldfish in the aquarium lead a stress-free life.