Is my goldfish spawning or sick?

Hi. I have one lone goldfish, about 6 inches in length. It's always been rounded in shape, but lately seems really bloated.

For the last few days, it has shown little interest in food, other than the algae it sucks off the rocks at the bottom of the tank, and as a result, I haven't seen much evidence of it producing waste.

Mostly it stays near the bottom of the tank, with its head down and its body tilted upwards, but this is interspersed with periods of agitation, racing around the tank and breaking the surface of the water.

I have tried not feeding it for a couple of days, have performed a partial water change and checked the water parameters (all normal).

I don't know if it is ready to lay eggs (but has no male to chase it and stimulate it into releasing them), and if so, whether it will be able to release eggs on its own. I've also heard that eggs can be reabsorbed, but have no idea how common this is. If the fish is spawning, I don't know how long this might take or how long the fish will appear stressed and despondent.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that it might instead be constipated or ill. I don't know how to tell the difference, or how to help relieve the discomfort, and as we enter day three, I'm quite concerned.

Any help or advice is most welcome!

Grant's Reply


Goldfish don't normally get into breeding condition if there isn't a fish of the opposite gender present.

If the fish was spawning, it would spray eggs all over the aquarium, usually in early morning. With no male present they would turn white after 24 hours.

There are two possibilities that are more likely, constipation, or kidney failure.

Unfortunately I believe it is the latter.

From your picture there isn't obvious evidence of dropsy such as lifted scales and pop eyes caused by fluid building up in the body. Apart from the bloating the fish looks very healthy.

I would move the fish to another container or strip down its aquarium.

To eliminate constipation as an option the fish needs to be in a container with nothing on the bottom. This enables you to see if waste is being passed.

A mild salt bath of 1 gram of salt per liter, and 1 gram of Epsom salts per liter will help if the fish is constipated.

Keep the salt level low as it will stress the kidney more if that is the problem.

Don't feed for a couple of days or until waste is being passed then feed green vegetable matter only such as shelled green peas, kale etc.

If the appetite doesn't return after waste is passed and not being fed for a couple of days, the problem is more serious.

If the fish has kidney failure, it will be caused by either a bacterial attack or a cystic kidney.

Cystic kidney disease is not treatable. A bacterial attack is with one of the bacterial treatment options listed on the dropsy disease page.

Dropsy is one of the harder sicknesses to treat as it can be caused by a number of reasons either parasitical, bacterial or cysts. This is why a multi-pronged attack is required.

Comments for Is my goldfish spawning or sick?

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Feb 14, 2017
Interested goldfish mate
by: Michael

Hey, where do you stay? I have a male goldfish who is mature and ready to mate. His lover recently died and he is very distraught. He desires a female like yours to create children and regain a joy in his life. Sorry if I seem crazy, I've just developed a bond with my fish and it seems like this is what's desired

Aug 30, 2016
Medical Treatment
by: Grant


I suspect it should read "It must NOT be mixed with other products".

If it is to be added to the food, it would be unsafe to mix different medications as the fish receives a much stronger dose than it would if it is just mixed into the water.

Follow the instructions exactly, and under-dose rather than over-dose. This medication is a fairly safe treatment.

Aug 28, 2016
medical treatment
by: Anonymous

Thanks Grant. One more question: just in case it is a bacterial infection, I have purchased some kanamycin based medicine. The package says it is safe to use, but then goes on to add that if medicine is to be added to food rather than directly into water, it must be mixed with other products to prevent fish loss. I'm confused -can this treatment harm the fish? If not, I'd like to use it to cover all my bases, but if it can make things worse, then I don't.... any advice?

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