Some “fishy” thoughts…..

Our aquarium ... and it's residents
Our aquarium … and it’s residents

Our fish are not well 😦

Few days ago, Sneha tipped one whole bottle of goldfish food in to our fish tank.  My 2+year-old toddler – like her elder sister Saumya – is fond of watching fish these days, and spends a lot of her time in front of the aquarium; often standing on the sofa, leaning on to the aquarium with her nose pressed on to the glass.

Whenever I see her in this position, I pick her up from sofa and will keep on floor near to the tank, hoping she will prefer this normal view.  But Sneha always goes back to sofa, possibly because once on sofa, she can have a clearer view of most part of the tank.  Probably this position might also give her a surreal “under water” feeling, with bubbles escaped from filter pump floating – and bursting – in front of her eyes.

While I was not too happy with her preferred place, I hardly thought it will do any harm to her – or to fish for that matter.  But here we go; Sneha’s enthusiasm to imitate Papa and Mummy feeding fish resulted in this catastrophe.

OK….!!!!  No need to clarify.  I agree, I was trying to shift blame on to a 2-year-old!!  I should have kept the fish food far away from Sneha’s reach.

We brought these goldfish 3 years ago on a cold January weekend.  Saumya was younger, and she was fond of fishes.  Once we took her to our nearest aquatic retailer – Maidenhead Aquatics.  Saumya was mesmerized by the sheer verities of fishes.  “So many colours!  So many sizes!!  So many fishes!!!” she wandered all around the shop – seemingly for hours.

At the end Saumya settled in front of the tank with orange coloured goldfish and “demanded” to buy one of them.   Of the innumerable available types, I too was OK with goldfish – purely because I remembered reading somewhere that goldfish were supposed to be “tough”, could survive in harsh situations, were ok with cold water and were a bit tolerant towards an in-experienced aquarium owner.

Saumya's Favorite one
Saumya’s Favorite one

Though I liked having an aquarium in our living room, soon I started hating it and its occupants.  The fish ate too much and dirtied the tank too quickly.  The aquarium too demanded attention very often by turning stained-green.  I had to scrub and scrub endlessly – every alternate weekend – to make it look a bit cleaner.

Holidays gave another headache – who will feed the fish?!  It was Sunila who thought of it first.  I blamed the hungry fishes and kept quiet.  But Sunila ensured that the fish were fed nicely by requesting one of our good friends to come in and feed fish on alternate days.  She also searched over internet and brought an automatic feeder by the time we planned our next vacation.

Over the period, one of the goldfishes turned its colour – from gold to silver!  That story another time.

Anyways, slow and steady the fish became part of our life.  All three girls like the fish and feed them; I try not to hate them while cleaning the tank.

Back to our current issue.  When Sunila told me about the incident over phone and mentioned that she removed leftover food floating around, I thought the matter was closed.

That was almost 5 days ago.

This Saturday, I noticed the unusual cloudy water in aquarium.  As the water was replaced last Saturday, I wrongly attributed the cloudiness to recent change in climate.  I should have known better. By Sunday morning, all four goldfishes were hovering above water, gasping for air.  Then, and then only alarm bells started ringing in my head – food poison!

Straightway Saumya and I went into action mode; it took solid 3 hours for us to remove 90% of water, clean gravel and other plastic tank ornaments, and re-fill the tank.  The goldfishes seemed a bit tried with this whole exercise and soon went motion-less, resting (sleeping?) down below.  As this sleep is normal on afternoons, especially after a change of water – it looked all normal.

We went out to meet one of our friends as planned earlier, and came back home only late evening.  Once in, I went straight to the aquarium.  Goldfishes were up and active – swimming all around the tank as expected on evenings.

That was when I noticed the burned mark.  Of the 4 goldfishes, three have blood red colour on their foreheads. The fourth – Saumya’s favourite – one’s forehead is now whitish.

It’s late Sunday evening.  Maidenhead Aquatics should have been closed long ago.   Not knowing what to do, I googled on “goldfish red forehead”.  That’s when we came across the dreaded words “ammonia burn”.  It seems the extra food had contaminated the water, causing the burn marks.  The more one searches on symptoms, the more worrying facts emerge.  I don’t want to go to those details 😦

Sigh… let bygones be bygones.  We have done what we could do now – thorough cleaning and a change of water.  But it looks like all is not well.  Even though the fishes are active, swimming around, and not gasping for air anymore, their bright red foreheads does not give Sunila or me any comfort.

Have you gone through this situation before?

Are there any medicines?

Let us know what could be done to save these fishes.  They are loved a lot by Saumya, Sneha and Sunila…. And these days, by me too!

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