Goldfish depression (A complete guide)

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From the following article, you will gain information about what goldfish depression is. Along with insightful evidence, you will also understand not only can a fish suffer from depression but also it can be diagnosed. 

Can a goldfish be depressed?

Usually when we talk about depression other than humans, we include dogs or other canine or feline species. You may be quite surprised to accept that a fish has depression. To a layman, an aquatic being usually doesn’t appear to possess any emotion – concepts happiness, sadness or anything in between. 

Yes a goldfish can suffer from depression too. Studies show if a goldfish is found to swim at the bottom level of the aquarium and shows signs of losing interest in everything, it might be a matter of concern. Studies on the mental health of aquatic creatures are done to find treatments for humans suffering from disorders like depression.

Julian Pittman, a professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Troy University in Alabama, said in The New York Times, that “The neurochemistry is so similar that it’s scary.” It’s a lack of stimulation that triggers depression in small aquatic pets, says Victoria Braithwaite, a professor of fisheries and biology at Penn State University who studies fish intelligence. “One of the things we’re finding is that fish are naturally curious and seek novel things out,” she told the Times.

Let us look at some extremely interesting research findings and evidences :

  • Julian Pittman, a professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Troy University conducted a study where he induced a zebrafish by getting them “drunk” on ethanol for two weeks, then cutting off the supply, resulting in withdrawal effect. It was observed these fish would swim around the floor of the tank until they were given antidepressant, after which they happily moved near the surface, normally exploring its upper reaches.In the “novel tank test”, the fish was introduced to a new environment such as a new tank. It was observed they normally explored its upper reaches, but if they were depressed, they stayed in the loswer space. 
  • In another study by do Nascimento published in the APA, it was inferred that there may be a possibility of use of learned helplessness(which is an animal model of depression) in Zebrafish, in which the escape–avoidance responses were markedly diminished after exposure to uncontrollable aversive stimuli. 
  • “A study in 2007 revealed that more freshwater fish are owned by Americans than any other pet, including dogs or cats. And yet, despite that prevalence, the fish we interact with in our homes or those we research seemed deprived of the compassion we hold for their warm-blooded counterparts.”

How would you know if your goldfish is depressed?

You may wonder, gazing at your scaly pet in your aquarium, how good and beautiful their lives are. They have the freedom to swim around all day and need not stress about anything. Life of a fish is not so dreamy the way you think. The truth is your fish can get stressed in much the same way as humans do. Though we cannot visibly see a fish expressing their emotions, we can depend on some behavioral cues to understand if a fish is depressed. Just like humans, though, stress in fish can lead to serious health complications, so it’s important to be able to recognize when your fish is stressed and what you can do to help.

What are the symptoms of a fish’s depression?

You should observe your fish often for any of these signs of stress.

  • If you see  your pet fish gasping at the surface of the water, it may reveal a sign of stress and depression caused due to a lack of enough oxygen and a poor water condition.
  • A fish if depressed loses appetite
  • Ich, a disease characterizing white spots on the body of the fish which can appear as a result of stress. 
  • When depressed, the fish swims in an odd swimming pattern.If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress.

Causes:

Stress in fish is caused by many different factors. Usually fish are stressed due to changes in their habitat or disturbance in their routine and behaviours.

Unclean water : if your pet’s home is not clean and well maintained then they may become stressed. High ammonia or nitrate levels, low oxygen levels, improper temperature or a high or low pH can cause stress. If you have a saltwater tank, incorrect salt levels could have a similar effect.

Conflict with other fish : like humans not every fish can become friends. Too many fishes can make them feel cramped. Even some fishes are so aggressive that they may become a reason for stress for another. Make sure you don’t crowd your aquarium with too many fishes. 

Other factors: improper diet and usage of too much chemicals can make a fish stressed. At times a fish may get bored because of lack of novel stimulus in their habitat. 

What to do ? 

If you realize your fish is suffering from stress, boredom or depression do take actions as fast as possible.

Try to determine the factor responsible for stressing your fish, and take actions as required:

  • If you feel the water condition may be poor, you can conduct a water test to know the quality of the water.
  • Make sure there are enough hiding places, nooks and corners in the tank so that the fish don’t become bored. 
  • Make sure your fish is maintaining a proper diet
  • Do examine your fish’s behaviours thoroughly. If any of the above parameters don’t change the condition of the fish, you should talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions.

Here is an instance of how a goldfish was rescued :

“So a little background, I rescued a goldfish from a hoarder house, and after a battle with various illnesses and adapting to a clean environment she pulled through. She has been in a 10 gal since I wasn’t sure she would survive, and since she has I got a 40 gal breeder. I ran the new filter alongside the old one in the 10 gal for about 2 weeks with a bio stone directly underneath it. I put about 2 cups worth of substrate, the filter, the bio stone, 4 artificial plants, and 1 hideout from the old aquarium into the new one. Everything else is new. I let the new aquarium run for a couple days to get the temperature to match her old one (our “cold” water comes out in the mid 80’s here). I tested both aquariums and ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and water hardness matched perfectly. PH had less than a .5 difference. I decided to move her into the new aquarium. It’s been almost a week and she just sits at the back of the aquarium by the filter intake behind a log. She hasn’t had any interest in food. Instead of happily swimming over when she sees someone she hides. I put my hand in the tank a few days ago to fix a runaway java fern and instead of swimming up to and brushing up against my hand like she used to she swam as far away as possible. I’ve also noticed some scales have gone missing but I don’t know if it’s from her swimming between the filter intake and the glass or something else. She developed stress veins in her tail fin the second week of having two pumps running in the 10 gal but it seems to have finally started to fade today. I have been testing the water in the morning and again at night every day and ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite have all stayed at 0 and ph hasn’t changed. The water is getting a little cloudy but I assume that’s from the uneaten food. Maybe the new or bigger environment was a shock for the fish. I’m happy, finally she pulled through.”

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusion

From the article above , you have gained information about what goldfish depression is. Along with insightful evidence, you also understood how your pet fish can suffer from depression, the procedure of diagnosis and the probable solutions. 

What we recommend for Depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

FAQs: Goldfish depression

How can you tell if a fish is sad?

You should observe your fish often for any of these signs of stress.
If you see  your pet fish gasping at the surface of the water, it may reveal a sign of stress and depression caused due to a lack of enough oxygen and a poor water condition.
A fish if depressed loses appetite
Ich, a disease characterizing white spots on the body of the fish which can appear as a result of stress. 
When depressed, the fish swims in an odd swimming pattern.If your fish is swimming frantically without going anywhere, crashing at the bottom of his tank, rubbing himself on gravel or rocks, or locking his fins at his side, he may be experiencing significant stress.

Why is my fish sad?

Stress in fish is caused by many different factors. Usually fish are stressed due to changes in their habitat or disturbance in their routine and behaviours.
Unclean water : if your pet’s home is not clean and well maintained then they may become stressed. High ammonia or nitrate levels, low oxygen levels, improper temperature or a high or low pH can cause stress. If you have a saltwater tank, incorrect salt levels could have a similar effect.
Conflict with other fish : like humans not every fish can become friends. Too many fishes can make them feel cramped. Even some fishes are so aggressive that they may become a reason for stress for another. Make sure you don’t crowd your aquarium with too many fishes. 
Other factors: improper diet and usage of too much chemicals can make a fish stressed. At times a fish may get bored because of lack of novel stimulus in their habitat. 

 Do goldfishes feel sad?

Yes a goldfish can suffer from depression too. Studies show if a goldfish is found to swim at the bottom level of the aquarium and shows signs of losing interest in everything, it might be a matter of concern. Studies on the mental health of aquatic creatures are done to find treatments for humans suffering from disorders like depression.

Can fish see humans?

A new study says, Yes, it probably can.

references:

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums/f135/depressed-goldfish-373289.html?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=0eab8f8563d5dbbbe253e94b28ee1082d9c3fdde-1610717265-0-AUZXv6cCayjxV-kaIgqXOzVyVMA_bSPDUw7Jo8FpRzMHDsqrB-bBbeQlB1hhpJ_Ziunon6lvE_trfFG4ZTA3J82__XdEHMepPJI9uC51l6SAJQcayBrzjxnnknF1wHIzg8vbb9KjvghCxShQGeYhEzyTnn7GJagpbwhHnG7LjLgy7cOp6jnAss2maPM5gTepvqxNt00DlI6fb6HrZSQVbvMZiv0OLMD1qsI0tt-Y0rZ9OtyBAzS2o9jO6sb6r82oe1IpyYiom16HczHh-3-Flf953ADX94ieHOMXlZeT7qkQsV1rxTfBaxjZdX9ToCbZTZNzpUo93OKVrF4ZcByvo07UfMYA2kc77RHUfhTr9YY-BMDTjPcAyu59abi7E_MbRh8tPG6uMfkf8arOo-BkBLVztvLX4ugbVMfKMMIG1y7v

https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/fish-depression.php

https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/fish-depression.php

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