Whirling Disease in Goldfish?

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Fish Stix
Original poster
...didn't know if possible I thought it only occured in Salmonids? Anyone?

Anyway, here is my situation. Spartan, one of my best goldfish recently developed what appeared to be a case of constipation. I fasted and fed skinned peas which produced a little poo, but not the cleansing which I has hoped for. Then I noticed that the swelling was not symetrical. He seemd to eat and swim normally, just occasionaly resting on the bottom. I continued to sparringly feed peas. Then just last night I noticed he was spinning violently around the tank...exactly like this...

...except in my case he seems bent and cannot straighten out.

I immediately put him in a clean 10gal quarrantine tank...he is about 5-6 inches of common goldie. I added a bubble stone, and Whisper 20 filter for aeration/filtration. This was at midnight last night. This morning I ran out to petsmart and picked up some marycin II and began treatment. I figure if it is not a tumor, It might be an internal bacterial infection. I don't know how it would have just come on since nothing has changed in the tank for months (5+). I'll see if this helps, if not I'll probably have to euthanize. I'll try and get pics. His detrioation only took a matter of a couple of days.

Should I add some aquarium salt? if so how much?

- No pineconeing
- asymetrical swelling in belly/gut
- curved spine
- spinning while trying to swim
- Water tests are good.

Side note...he was in a tank with my other 3 goldies...they have lived together for as long as I've had them. Should I clean their tank, and treat them..even though they currently show no signs? Or just watch them closely?

This sudden unexplained illness just bugs me. helpless etc.

Thanks for the help...any help.


Stroke Survivor '05
Whirling Disease (WD) is caused by the exotic parasite Myxobolus cerebralis (Mc). An antibiotic will not help.

Furazolidone, the only effective drug which can be successfully applied against several myxosporeoses in the form of prolonged feeding has been used with good results against sphaerosporosis of common carp, hoferellosis of goldfish, myxidiosis of eel, and proliferative kidney disease, whirling disease and ceratomyxosis of salmonids. A 4* to 6*day feeding of medicated diets containing 0.05*0.1% furazolidone was effective against early blood stages of Sphaerospora, while toltrazuril failed to kill these parasites
Ther are several different strains of whirling disease, all cause by a variant parasite. The common method of transport of introduction is Tubifex.

Just because you might feed Tubifex does not mean your fish will get it. Sometimes it can be introduced from a hatchery. Only a histology and necropsy can identify it clearly. It does cause deformation of the infected host.
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Fish Stix
Original poster
I've only ever fed them pellet, flake and veggies....If it is WD, I wonder how long it can lay dormant. They were in a pond over a year ago. Since then they have been in indoor aquariums. I'm hoping it's not something exotic like WD...maybe just a big gas via bacteria or even a tumor...I don't want to lose any other fish this way. I'm gonna keep watching and treating for now...if no improvement soon, I'll have to make the "final" decision. :(


Fish Stix
Original poster
Did a little research, and I'm 98% sure it's not whirling disease. The curved spine could be caused by numerous things such as nitrate toxicity, My water tests between 10-40ppm (40 being max @ weekly water change..) Generally stays around 20 and under. So it could be due to that. If they have been exposed to high nitrate before (very possible under previous ownership..and mine, but I try my best to keep it in check) they can become more sensitive. Different fish have different sensitivity levels, which would explain why the others haven't shown any signs of reaction to nitrate.

Anyway, I'm still going with a internal bacterial infection. Day 2 of Marycin II treatment is showing a tiny bit of improvement...enough to give me hope. He managed to swim across the 10 gal. hospital without spinning today. Fingers crossed, but still prepared for the worst.


Fish Stix
Original poster
Day 5 of Marycin II....sitting upright in tank, swims around unsteadily, but not consistently spinning. Still seems a bit bloated on the one side. Spine is not curved anymore. Not much of an appetite. Breathing fairly rapidly. I think he might have a touch of popeye as well. Still doing better than before.

I hope he continues to improve. Still no idea of what happened to him. I'll see if I can somehow get a video posted.


AC Members
Feb 8, 2009
Real Name
How frequently are you changing water in the 10? So many goldfish diseases/conditions can be vastly improved by pristine water conditions. Usually in my hospital tanks, I change aout 50% every day, depending on the condition that I am treating. If you are using an antibiotic, that may not be possible. My first thought from your post was nitrate poisoning, but I am not one of the goldfish gurus.


Fish Stix
Original poster
Day five is the last day of the treatment schedule, so tomorrow he gets a water change. Then possibly a round 2 of treatment. I have been keeping a close eye on water quality. Nitrate in the Hospital tank is just over 5. Nitrite is zip. Ammonia is zilch. I thought about nitrate poisoning too, but main tank is kept between 10-30...


Fish Stix
Original poster

Here's a quick vid of Spartan during one of his bad moments...you can see his swollen side and spin.

After 5 days of treatment he sometimes still spins like this, but most of the time he is just sitting upright on the bottom of the tank.



Fish Stix
Original poster
Appears to be on the mend. Swelling is down, Eye is back to normal, eating and pooping regularly and I haven't noticed him spinning for a while. 3 more days of the second round of treatment. We shall see.