How to Revive a DEAD Butterfly Koi, Gold fish, Fighting fish


12″ Giant orange gold fish about 7 years ago- he lived for 3 more years
14″ butterfly Koi-last year- was still alive when I last saw her before I moved.


The problem with raising large fish in tanks instead of ponds is keeping the water clean and stable.
Both gold fish and Koi pollute the water very quickly with their poop. And while I spent hours and hours every week working on filters, tank cleaning, water changes- it still got away from me.

The main symptoms of toxic water is that your fish clamps its mouth shut- doesn’t move gills or open mouth for short spans of time- then will open and close mouth/gills a couple times and stop again. If you ever see this behavior- you’ve got to get your fish OUT of that water within like 10 minutes. Forget treating the water- or changing half the water- it wont be enough. Another symptom of toxic water is red appearing in their fins and tail. It’s blood cells that have hemorrhaged.

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My first fish to die was my “feeder” 22 cent gold fish that grew to be a foot long with a fancy tail.
The power had been out for a few hours the day before- The next morning – the fish had some red veins showing in his tail. (That’s the other symptom of toxic water) I grabbed my bottle of pond rescue – treated the water and checked the canister filter-It was pretty dirty but mostly it smelled toxic! Something had gone very wrong in the chemistry when the power had gone out. I unhooked it and cleaned it out completely. There was no saving any of it to activate the new filter. Took like an hour to clean it all out and set it back up. I hooked the filter system back in and watched the fish swim around for around 1`5 minutes- He seemed a little better- but the water had become a little cloudy while the filter was off.

I walked away and worked on a project in my bedroom for a few hours. Someone knocked on my house door and as I walked past the tank to answer the door- I saw the goldfish dive downward-flipping onto his back as he glided into the far corner- back arched and gills flared- I remember yelling NO!!!! He wasn’t breathing or moving- he was totally gone. Instinctively I ran to the tank and grabbed him and lifted him up out of the water- plunged him back under and lifted out again. Did this about 7 or 8 times before his mouth opened. (no gill movement. Eyes glazed over- totally limp. I yelled for my friend to come fill up my spare 30 gal tank- I started holding him over the airstone bubbles and I continued to lift him out of the water every few minutes- also pulled him backwards thru the water- forcing both bubbles and water thru his gills.Moved him to the clean tank with all the bubble stones (4 or 5) pushing all around his face and gills.

2 hours past before he showed any sign of life at all- his eye rolled around and looked at me- it was another hour before his gills fluttered. total of 4 hours before he moved his mouth. at 5 hours he finally moved his body- This whole time I was holding his body in the correct upright position- air bubbles and pulling him over and over backwards thru the water. I still lifted him up and out every 5 or so minutes- this would trigger him to take a gulp of air. At 6 hours- he made his first effort to swim. It was about 3 more hours before he was able to stay upright on his own. I smashed up green peas(frozen/thawed/shell removed) and put them in his mouth. I force fed him for 3 days before he finally pooped. He slowly got stronger and was fine by a week later.

Same happened to my Koi years later. This fish took 30 minutes for a sign of life. 6 hours before could stay upright by herself. She was fine by the next day.

It works on fish who die from their water turning toxic.
It took over 6 hours to recover enough to allow me to let go of them at all.
It failed to work on guppies or small cory cat fish or angel fish.

koi revived from dead video link


As long as the ants haven’t gotten to him-and his eyes haven’t shriveled- he likely isn’t really dead. Pick him up- put him back in the water and stir him around – lifting him out at least once per minute- after around 5-10 minutes- his body will soften and he should start pumping his gills. Takes about an hour before he can surface for air by himself so you’ll have to lift him up at least once every 3 minutes. I saved 4 or 5 this way.

Why is this possible? Fighting fish breath air. The only reason to be in water for them is to keep fins wet. They can actually drown if unable to reach the surface to get air.


Cats like to catch fighting fish!

A note about fighting fish-
First- fighting fish don’t live long when kept in a small container. Its cruel. They will live up to 3 years if kept in a 1 gallon tank with air bubble and under gravel filter system. Unlike most fish- the cleaner the water- the healthier the fish. Always change all the water. Always make sure they have access to the surface (dont put them under plants) If they are in a filtered 1 gal tank- change the water once every 2 weeks. IF THEY ARE IN A CUP OR OTHER NON FILTERED CONTAINER change water once every 3 days.
They are VERY sensitive to dirty water.
For healthy fish- feed frozen(thawed) green peas pressed thru a clean garlic press- one pea 3-4x per week. If in a 1 gal tank- keep a few cory cat fish in the tank as well.



  1. Alissa

    I watched you reviving this fish a few months ago by pulling backwards on his tail. Sunday morning I went out by my pond to see an 18″ fish that was laying dry and covered in dirt-eyes glazed over. I thought it was dead. I saw a tiny movement in his gills. I put him in the pond and pushed and pulled him right next to the waterfall for almost 2 and a half hours. He came back 🙂 If I didn’t see this I wouldn’t have kept with it for so long. Thanks!!!

    • noiqscore

      I’m so glad it worked for you!!! Hard to believe it works… you need to figure out why he was out of the water tho- If its become toxic they flick their bodies- stay near the surface and or they get red streaks in their fins (hemorrhaging) Please test your water for toxicity – they have a cheap ($11) 5 in 1 test strip kit at WalMart – cut the strips in half long ways to make them last twice as long- test water every other week. I keep a bottle of “Pond rescue” on hand at all times- cost like $18 but 1 cap full treats 50 gallons. Its a big bottle. Regardless of what its called look for one that naturalizes ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and is concentrated (good type treats 100 gallon with 1 cap full!) Help fish recover by feeding frozen green peas- a handful per week. They have no stomach- so if they act hungry- they are. Know that he may now be blind- make sure he’s able to find the food at the top of the water-

  2. GoldfishMom2016

    I walked into my room and found my goldfish floating at the top of the tank. she was still breathing, but i’m not sure if she made it through the night. every now and then she moves her mouth and gills but it has become very rare for her to breathe. She is a comet goldfish. Will your method work for her?

    • noiqscore

      Oh my- i have no idea when you sent this – I wasnt notified! It could have been a year ago as its not showing me a date.

      I will reply :For this time if this message was recent. For a future fish if she didnt make it. My reply would be get fish out of that water into a 5 gallon bucket of fresh water as fast as possible.(treated to be safe) or in a clean plastic tub. With air stones making lots of bubbles under her. Stay with her keeping right side up over air bubbles and move forward and back so water passes thru her gills. Throw some fish tank salt in the water if possible.(have someone else add a hand full) keep this up till she starts breathing better on her own. Hold her over air bubbles until she is able to hold her self upright by her self. This will take from 30 minutes to 6 hours. Once shes stable – change out ALL the water in her tank. Cleaning under the gravel real well. Fill with fresh water. Also clean out filter by swishing in her recovery water and re use for a few days to balance the tank. Add tank salt and move her back in soon after. A filtered tank is better than a bucket with air stones.

      FOR THE RECORD – I HAVE SAVED ANOTHER KOI USING THIS METHOD. Once again found fish on bottom of tank not breathing.followed my method and she recovered in about 35 minutes.

      This method works if the problem is toxic water. Keeping fish that poop a lot makes this an ongoing risk. When it goes bad- it can happen in a single day.

      DEAD OR ALIVE? Your fish can be saved if they look dead but have their mouth is clamped shut. Gills closed.Your fish is holding its breath! You only have a few minutes to save them. If your fish looks dead and has mouth open and gills open- too late. They cant be saved.

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