Pets' corner: A crowded goldfish bowl

Your questions answered by Chamois Rose-Wood

We have four goldfish in a tank. One of the fish gave birth to babies a few months ago and one of the fry has lost an eye. Do goldfish fight and will this fish be suffering? Robert White, Twickenham, Middx

When people buy fish they normally buy them as decoration for their homes. Before long they invariably start having problems with them. Normally we can solve many of these problems by just spending time with the fish, observing them. Male beta fish, for example, are notorious for fighting. Goldfish are normally regarded as unaggressive, but in particular circumstances they can become aggressive, which will lead to fighting. The first thing you need to look at is their environment, which has a very profound effect on their behaviour. The most likely causes of fights are overcrowding or underfeeding. If you find out which of your fish is the troublemaker, you can put it in a separate bowl for a few days until it settles down. Then try reintroducing it. As for your fish's eye loss, they can live a relatively long life with one eye as long as no infection or bacteria gets into the wound. A way of preventing this: place it in a clean wet towel, dip a cotton bud in a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Dab the bud on the damaged eye or in the empty eye socket. Let the drug penetrate for 10 seconds and then place the fish back in the tank. If for some reason the eye loss causes extreme complications, you may have to think about humane fish disposal.

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