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what are your experiences with stunted fish

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This is really interesting and something that I was interested in learning about too. Great info so far guys. I really liked the article on compensatory growth.

Suppose you buy a common out of a feeder fish tank. The tank is about 40 gallons and there are around 250-300 commons in the tank. How often is the stock replaced? How long is the longest that you would suppose a fish living in these conditions would spend in the tank before being removed to either be fed to somebodies Oscar or placed in a pet home? How old do you suppose these small fish are? Would you consider them stunted because not all of the fish can get to the top for food and they are in very crowded conditions?

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Stores do not make it a habit to keep the fish there for long, and those fish turnover quite rapidly. I wouldn't consider them stunted.

Do you consider Tom Cruise stunted?

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Our store sell out of feeders in under a week. We get 250 smalls and 150 large twice a week. Most stores are similar.

Edited by Pearlscaleperfect

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Hmmm....this is quite a controversial topic. I thought I would chime in to say that my 2 goldfish are terribly stunted. They lived in a 5 gallon for a year. I'd say they've grown 2-3 mm at the most in their conditions. Now they have been moved into a 29 gallon, and I am not expecting any significant growth spurts. I do know there is a theory that if kept stunted, the fish's internal organs will outgrow their bodies and "explode". My fish lived in bad conditions for a year and I never saw any of these symptoms. I don't think it's the stunting that kills a fish, moreover the ammonia buildup and presence of disease in the tank or bowl.

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I do know there is a theory that if kept stunted, the fish's internal organs will outgrow their bodies and "explode".

I'm sorry, but I wouldn't call this a theory, but a forum myth. Anywhere where there is a discussion of exploding fish, there should be a profundity of skepticism.

I would like to reiterate these points:

1. Yes, a fish's growth can be stunted by factors that are not genetically determined.

2. How can you tell that a fish is stunted, versus one that is small? I daresay that most of us do not even know what is the range of growth for a goldfish, much less know what would be on the extreme ends of that range.

3. Before you talk about your own fish's stunting, you have to ask if you've been giving the fish adequate housing, and adequate food?

4. As shown in the article up above, goldfish, as cyprinids, are capable of compensatory growth once stunting conditions are removed.

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Hmmm....this is quite a controversial topic. I thought I would chime in to say that my 2 goldfish are terribly stunted. They lived in a 5 gallon for a year. I'd say they've grown 2-3 mm at the most in their conditions. Now they have been moved into a 29 gallon, and I am not expecting any significant growth spurts. I do know there is a theory that if kept stunted, the fish's internal organs will outgrow their bodies and "explode". My fish lived in bad conditions for a year and I never saw any of these symptoms. I don't think it's the stunting that kills a fish, moreover the ammonia buildup and presence of disease in the tank or bowl.

I really don't think it's 'controversial'. More so that there is a myth perpetuated around that really is different than the reality. When you make a statement like "my fish are stunted" it is misleading. Because fish can go through periods of stunting and rebound. While they may have been inhibited by proper growth in a 5gal at the time, currently if they are living in better conditions they are no longer being stunted and theoretically should be on the rebound.

EDIT: alex beat me to it.

Also any growth inhibiting hormone would not ONLY affect the outer tissues of the fish, because that doesn't really make sense. So the idea that the organs can 'outgrow' the fish is just not viable.

Edited by Pearlscaleperfect

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Do you consider Tom Cruise stunted?

Perhaps, but only in a mental capacity. He eats well, and his housing is well above average--this is definitely a case where proper husbandry has failed to produce quality stock.

Edited by yafashelli

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I do know there is a theory that if kept stunted, the fish's internal organs will outgrow their bodies and "explode".

I'm sorry, but I wouldn't call this a theory, but a forum myth. Anywhere where there is a discussion of exploding fish, there should be a profundity of skepticism.

I would like to reiterate these points:

1. Yes, a fish's growth can be stunted by factors that are not genetically determined.

2. How can you tell that a fish is stunted, versus one that is small? I daresay that most of us do not even know what is the range of growth for a goldfish, much less know what would be on the extreme ends of that range.

3. Before you talk about your own fish's stunting, you have to ask if you've been giving the fish adequate housing, and adequate food?

4. As shown in the article up above, goldfish, as cyprinids, are capable of compensatory growth once stunting conditions are removed.

Oh, I had a feeling that was a myth- I guess it really is. The idea of goldfish exploding like this: :blowup: was a bit profound. :rofl

Hmmm....this is quite a controversial topic. I thought I would chime in to say that my 2 goldfish are terribly stunted. They lived in a 5 gallon for a year. I'd say they've grown 2-3 mm at the most in their conditions. Now they have been moved into a 29 gallon, and I am not expecting any significant growth spurts. I do know there is a theory that if kept stunted, the fish's internal organs will outgrow their bodies and "explode". My fish lived in bad conditions for a year and I never saw any of these symptoms. I don't think it's the stunting that kills a fish, moreover the ammonia buildup and presence of disease in the tank or bowl.

I really don't think it's 'controversial'. More so that there is a myth perpetuated around that really is different than the reality. When you make a statement like "my fish are stunted" it is misleading. Because fish can go through periods of stunting and rebound. While they may have been inhibited by proper growth in a 5gal at the time, currently if they are living in better conditions they are no longer being stunted and theoretically should be on the rebound.

EDIT: alex beat me to it.

Also any growth inhibiting hormone would not ONLY affect the outer tissues of the fish, because that doesn't really make sense. So the idea that the organs can 'outgrow' the fish is just not viable.

Thank you for the clarification. I think I understand the whole scope of stunting now.

You guys definitely know your stuff. ;)

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I believe the only known cause of stunting in animals (with stunting defined as the failure to reach expected size because of environmental conditions) is malnutrition in early life. This can result from insufficient food, lack of specific nutrients, stress sufficient to damage appetite, disease, or parasites. As long as the conditions which resulted in a failure to grow did not do other damage, there are no ill health effects from being undersized in humans or other animals.

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I had a stunted comet goldfish once and she live to be almost 5 years old. I think that the water quality and tank size have to do more with the suffering of a fish because if they aren't adequate then the fish wont live a very pleasant life. If these things are adequate then I believe a stunted goldfish can have a wonderful life as long as no internal injuries were acquired. Just my :twocents

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Ele, could we see pics of your stunted fish? May I ask why you say it's stunted, as opposed to being just small? Thanks.

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I have a question related to stunting and poor tank conditions etc. My first year with golfish I had purchased a total of 20 fish from the feeder bin and put them into a 150ish gallon preformed pond outside. 11 of them survived. I felt like I needed to bring them inside for the Winter but I didn't have much spare money at the time, and not knowing any better, I bought a 15 gallon starter kit. I kept all 11 fish in the 15 gallon for about 4 months. I now know that was terrible for various reasons but at the time I wondered things like why are they all breathing so fast, and why do they have the black patches forming on them? I asked the guy at the fish store and he said it was probably just stress from being moved. Now I know better.... No oxygen in the water and ammonia burns! So anyway..... None of the fish died over the Winter and come Spring i put them back into the pond, where one soon died. Now the remaining 10 plus more are in my 1600 gallon pond. I have been disappointed at the growth of the original 10. Respected posters are telling me they stop growing so fast after a couple years so it makes sense but I wonder if their first winter in an awful tank may be contributing?

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Well goldfish do the majority of their growing within the first two years. Poor conditions during this crucial growth period would theoretically make it harder to the fish to rebound after that growth window has closed.

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Well goldfish do the majority of their growing within the first two years. Poor conditions during this crucial growth period would theoretically make it harder to the fish to rebound after that growth window has closed.

I don't know if it's harder, MK. They might never experience that rapid growth of the first two years, but given encouragement, they should be just fine.

Here is a case in point. This is what Othello looks like for the first nearly 3 years of his life

Othello01.jpg

I'm sorry the pic is not very clear, but I wanted to have that dragon there as a frame of reference. This pic was from less than two years ago, when Othello was already about 3 years old. He was pretty small, although he spent nearly all of his life in the 55, I didn't feed as much.

Then when I decided to go on the Pro-Gold kick, I also ramped up the feeding. This is how he looks now

075_zps5f5b92f7.jpg

He has totally caught up with the others. :)

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Ok so it also seems like I need some fancier food.

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Ok so it also seems like I need some fancier food.

Well, don't get too fancy. Some of those get disagreeable on the fish. :rofl

Anyway, I think you see my point, and why I get very frustrated when people start talking about how their fish are stunted. Sometimes it just takes a little time, and a bit of adjustment in the routine. I feel that when people have concluded that their fish are stunted, they've given up. :/

Also, Othello was not the only slow growing fish that I had. I just wanted to showcase him, since I am quite proud of him. :)

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Yeah that is a good example Alex. I do want to change up the food now for sure though. I need some more beefcakes in the pond hahaha.

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Well goldfish do the majority of their growing within the first two years. Poor conditions during this crucial growth period would theoretically make it harder to the fish to rebound after that growth window has closed.

I don't know if it's harder, MK. They might never experience that rapid growth of the first two years, but given encouragement, they should be just fine.

Here is a case in point. This is what Othello looks like for the first nearly 3 years of his life

I'm sorry the pic is not very clear, but I wanted to have that dragon there as a frame of reference. This pic was from less than two years ago, when Othello was already about 3 years old. He was pretty small, although he spent nearly all of his life in the 55, I didn't feed as much.

Then when I decided to go on the Pro-Gold kick, I also ramped up the feeding. This is how he looks now

He has totally caught up with the others. :)

Good point Alex! I guess the point I was trying to make is that severe stressors during the early growth period could impede the fish from reaching its 'full potential' however because each fish is an individual. It is as you said nearly impossible to tell a slow growing or genetically more petite fish from one who has experienced a stunt period and has perhaps not fully rebounded from it.

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MK, you are absolutely right with the points you've been making in this thread. :)

I also just wanted to make sure people keep at least one thing close to heart: Don't worry so much about stunting your fish, or if they are stunted. Worry about how they are best cared for, and the rest follows naturally. :)

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from what ive heard, feeder goldfish are so poorly bred these days, unlike before that they intentionally weaken and stunt feeder goldfsih to prevent them from being kept as long-lived pets.

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I don't believe they 'stunt' them or breed them to be weaker, but stores do sell them young and don't really take care of them well because the people that breed them don't intend for them to live very long at all.

Many people on the forum have/had feeders that grew into big, beautiful fish and live long lives. Their survival is often attributed to these poor origins, because the fish that survive long enough in those tanks are often considered hardy, strong specimens. Just because a fish is bred from 'poor' stock, doesn't mean it doesn't have potential to become big and beautiful like any other fish, given the right environment to thrive in.

Edited by ChelseaM

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from what ive heard, feeder goldfish are so poorly bred these days, unlike before that they intentionally weaken and stunt feeder goldfsih to prevent them from being kept as long-lived pets.

This is absolutely inconsistent with several observations.

1. Many people here on the forums have feeders as pets. They are quite robust.

2. Feeders, being raised and kept in such high density, actually have to be selected to be quite hardy to be able to stay healthy in such environments for extended periods, or diseases would have ravaged these breeding facilities. Shakaho made this point, and I concur.

So, I don't think they are poorly bred at all. It seems to be the fad so say so, but doesn't quite hold water upon examination.

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The interesting thing about feeders is that they come in two major groups: those that are raised on fish farms specifically for the the feeder market; and culls from breeders with other goals that are shipped off to the local fish store. In my limited experience with pet/fish stores, the fish specialty stores have the most pathetic feeders. Petsmart, which gets its feeders from a huge fish farm, gets the best, although it's important to find out when the shipments come in, since store conditions are pretty crowded. When you sell 5 million fish a week, you can't have disease and parasites in your ponds/tanks. You can't meet your production commitments if your fish are sick or dying, so these fish are very well cared for. Furthermore, these fish are not culls (as the more expensive goldfish at Petsmart clearly are). They just collect them at the appropriate size and ship them all out.

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one of my goldfish was, at least, temporarily stunted due to what I'm ashamed to admit as my neglect. he lived in what is equivalent of a 4 gallon plastic tank, with no filtration, rarely fed, rarely had his water changed, and yet he struggled on. he lived in such conditions for 1½ years, before I realised just how bad it was (I had that mindset of "oh it's just a goldfish, it'll die soon" like many fish-ignorant people); it was the fact that he survived "for so long", longer than someone who only believed goldfish lived a year max would have expected. when he was first purchased, he was around 1", with a tail maybe ¾ of an inch. after living in abysmal conditions, he stayed around 1.5" in body length, with around 1-2" of tail length on top of that. eventually he was upgraded to a 42g with 3 juvenile tankmates, was fed properly with clean water, he grew a little though the juveniles who had the better start in life quickly overtook him. the things I noticed that were different about him were that he was less agile at swimming, and that he seemed a little differently proportioned to the juveniles (bigger eyes, chunkier body, longer fins). however I believe his quality of life was fine from that point onwards, even if he wasn't a great swimmer; he definitely managed to push the others out of the way for food and was never left hungry. eventually he succumbed to something that even Alex could not help me with - he bottom-sat for no discernable reason, we treated him for flukes, we gave him salt dips, hydrogen peroxide dips, to no avail. I believe it must have been something internal, which could have been attributed to his not-so-great start in life. in the end he got so bad I had to euthanise him at the age of 2½ years.

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My Goldie is stunted. She was a feeder GF won at a fair by my niece when she was 10 or so. Goldie then lived in a bowl for several months until I convinced my niece to turn her over to me. She was tiny and it took her a few months in good water to start growing. She's approx. the same age as my Georgia, but Georgia is more than twice her size. But Goldie DID grow some and she's vibrant and healthy now. I doubt she'll ever become a large fish, but she's happy and healthy. :)

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