White Spots On Goldfish (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention)

Just like all fish, goldfish can be exposed to infections and diseases within their habitats. The main thing we want to achieve when keeping this interesting pet is ensuring that their environments in captivity match their natural habitats in the wild.

One way we can do this is by researching all the ways in which we can keep a clean and healthy environment, and in this article, we will focus on how to prevent white spots on goldfish, which is caused by a disease known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, commonly known as Ich.

What Are White Spots On Goldfish? (Ich)

If you think your goldfish may have Ich, then a simple identifier would be white spots appearing on its body, usually around the size of grains of salt. However, there may be other symptoms that are quicker to identify for faster treatment that we have identified in the symptoms section.

The white spots on a goldfish develop as this disease is caused by an organism called protozoa that attacks fish with lowered immune systems. They are small parasites that attack your goldfish by latching on, causing lesions on your goldfish, hence the white spots. It will then use your goldfish as a way of feeding and growing, and spreading around the tank.

However, if they have gotten to the gills of your fish, you may not see any of the typical white spots, but they may have clamped fins.

What Causes Ich On Goldfish

Fish have a tendency to carry parasites, so it is how we first interact with them that will be the focal point of what causes Ich in your tank.

Goldfish may appear healthy when buying them in a pet shop; however, the symptoms may escalate within your tank within the first two weeks. The cause for Ich is usually a fish carrying the parasite; then, once it is in a new environment, it will latch on to further fish to grow and spread. The parasite can be carried on plants and ornaments, so we want to treat anything that goes into the fish tank.

As stated, goldfish with weaker immune systems are more likely to catch and become sick from this parasite, and while it is rubbing itself on objects to relieve itself, it spreads.

This particular parasite will thrive in dirty water or sudden temperature changes. These factors are also inclined to decrease your fish’s immune system, therefore making it more susceptible.

(These factors can also cause fin rot, dropsy, and swim bladder disease too.)

What Are The Symptoms Of Ich

Spotting the symptoms of Ich is crucial in treating the disease as soon as possible to stop any spread to the rest of the tank and/or your other fish. Usually, with Ich, you may identify it because of the white spots that appear on your goldfish; however, there are some earlier identifiers which include:

  • Goldfish may rub themselves against hard areas including tank glass, rocks, substrate or ornaments
  • You may notice that their fins become clamped against their bodies
  • They may also appear to be disoriented when swimming or behaving oddly

If you are checking your tanks regularly, you should easily be able to identify any of these symptoms, which will help greatly in early treatment.

However, if you haven’t been lucky to catch the early signs or have a fish that you have bought and placed in a community tank without realizing it, other symptoms will start to appear. These include:

  • White spots appearing on the goldfish’s body, which can spread from the head and gills to the rest of the body the more advanced it becomes
  • Persistent scraping over sharp or hard areas
  • Goldfish will lose their appetites, or try to eat but give up
  • Clamped fins
  • Going to the surface of the tank for air
  • Hiding or other swimming behaviour that is out of character
  • Itching may also cause other tears across the body
  • Bulging or protruding eyes

We don’t want our goldfish to get to these advanced stages, as this can be fatal to our pets. We need to be vigilant, as if it affects the gills, the goldfish will have problems getting enough oxygen. This is a worry when we see our goldfish swimming to the surface for air.

Next, we need to know how to effectively treat this so we can have happy, healthy fish again!

How Do You Treat Ich?

If you think your goldfish may have Ich, then the first thing you will need to do is quarantine them in a different tank.

In your original tank, you will either need to use an ich treatment that can be bought in any aquatic shop, however, do not allow the treatment to settle in any tanks your goldfish are in. This is because the treatment contains chemicals such as formaldehyde, which kills off the parasite; however, if the parasite is already residing in your goldfish, this could be detrimental to your pet.

The treatment is best for the tank, and we do not want it to come into contact with any healthy fish either. Now, you can use certain treatments on your goldfish, but it could have negative effects that we have already mentioned, and it can destroy any good bacteria that we need for the tank.

We recommend that you get rid of the parasite in a natural way, and we do this by:

  1. Ensuring the healthy fish are kept out of the tank to avoid infection, unless already exposed to contamination.
  2. Raising the temperature of your tank by 1 degree celsius a day, as this will help to acclimate your goldfish, whilst the higher temperature speeds up the life cycle of the parasite.
  3. We want to raise the temperature to around 26 degrees celsius, as the warmer temperature will accelerate the lifecycle of the parasite quicker.
  4. Next we should remove any plants from the tank so they do not become damaged from the treatment, which should then also be treated themselves, so they are clean when returning to the tank.
  5. Once the plants are removed, we then want to do a large water change of around 40-50% to ensure the water quality is at its best.
  6. We want to dissolve 19 grams of non-iodized salt to every gallon of water, and then repeatedly do water changes for the next 12 hours and continue for 14 days to be sure.
  7. We also want to clean the tank daily of any debris at the bottom of the tank, as we want to rid the substrate of any parasite also.

After doing this treatment, you should find that your tank is free of Ich, and you can continue with your aquarium tank as normal and at the right temperatures and levels.

Just ensure that to properly acclimate the goldfish, you will need to do temperature changes slowly, so they do not go into shock or become stressed.

We also warn that during the period of treatment, it may seem like the situation is becoming much worse. This, however, is a normal occurrence as we are speeding up the life cycle of the parasite.

If you decide to use the chemical treatments for your goldfish, please speak to a professional within the store to best advise you on how to perform the treatment as safely as possible for your fish.

How Do You Prevent Ich?

Prevention is key when it comes to white spot disease. We advise the following procedures to act as preventatives for this parasite infecting your established aquarium.


We know that fish are notorious for carrying parasites, so the most effective thing we can do when purchasing new fish is to quarantine them for two weeks.

We do this because we do not know the previous procedures taken before we have this fish as our own pet. We are unaware of the conditions the goldfish may be living or transported to, which means it could pick up any number of parasites along the way.

If your fish has come from a community tank within an aquatic shop, we are not sure what the other fish are carrying or the treatments they have gone through.

By quarantining your goldfish for the first two weeks of having them, we can eradicate any exposure of the parasite to your tank and other fish. You may not notice any issues at first with your goldfish, but symptoms may appear over the first few weeks, so it is always better to be safe than sorry!

In quarantine, ensure that your goldfish are still kept in conditions that they are accustomed to avoid any unnecessary stress.


With regards to how our fish tanks can be used as a preventative, it comes down to certain factors, such as maintaining the right pH levels and temperature. By monitoring these levels, we then see if anything differs, so we can act quickly to change anything.

Ich has an accelerated life cycle in a warmer environment, so the temperature being lower will only increase it.

With that being said, by thoroughly treating and cleaning anything that goes into your tank, we eliminate the problem. It is important to remember that this parasite may latch onto anything, not only the fish, so we want to ensure everything is in the best condition possible.

We achieve this by boiling any new ornaments or rocks/stones that are going into the tank and cleaning out plants thoroughly.


Consistency is paramount with Ich. As long as we are sticking to regular water changes, treating our tanks, and making sure that we follow proper procedures, then we should not come across too many problems.

It is when things start changing, or we are adding new things without taking into account our goldfish’s immune system, that things can get worrying.

We must treat all new fish as if they have the parasite within them already, as without being too negative, they probably might as it is so common!

We want to acquire our goldfish from a reputable place, so we know that others have had little to no problems with their own tanks, and it will suggest similar to ours. Picking healthy fish is vital; however, as we said, always follow the guidelines as they may be in the early stages.

A precaution we warn of is to please make sure you do not deposit water from the store you bought the fish from into your own tank. Goldfish will most likely come from community tanks, and in doing so, you may create problems right away.

Is Ich Contagious?

Ich is an extremely contagious and persistent disease for your tank, hence why we want to detect it before it develops to its full potential. It will not take long after your first goldfish becomes ill to affect the rest of the tank.

With fast detection, we can escape the issue of it latching on to other fish within your tank or plants or settling in the substrate. This particular parasite multiplies very quickly, so we want to take action for preventatives rather than persistent treatment.

We recommend sticking to the preventatives and guidance we have listed to ensure that you remove any possible infestation. Albeit the key factor of quarantining the first or newest fish you buy, you won’t know if the goldfish has shown early symptoms in the original tank you have retrieved it from.

Is Ich Fatal?

The fatality of Ich is down to how far it has progressed. If you have been fast-acting when you have noticed any symptoms, then no, it should not be fatal.

However, if the Ich has progressed to its stages affecting your goldfish’s gills, it may, unfortunately, be fatal. This is because the parasite can greatly damage the gills, which will affect the goldfish’s ability to breathe. Not only that, but if the fish starts deteriorating, then it causes problems of mobility, and these things will lead to fatality.

Hence why, preventative measures are key when it comes to this nasty parasite. As long as we follow the steps, then we will catch the Ich at its first stages and reduce the risk of spreading very quickly.

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So to conclude, we should know that the early signs of Ich are the most vital to address to stop the rapid spread of infection to the rest of your tank.

We want to maintain the right conditions for goldfish at all times and not subject them to anything that will alter their immune systems for the worse.

Quarantining new fish is optimal for preventing Ich, as well as cleaning anything new that you wish to place in your aquarium. Just remember that natural remedies to treat Ich will be most beneficial for your pets’ health!

Now we know how to treat and prevent Ich, you should feel at ease with dealing with your new goldfish and fish tank!

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