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Swim Bladder Disorder

JPMcQueen

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Okay, I have a fish thats affected by swim bladder disorder. Its a fancy fantail and has the typical egg shaped body which has always caused problems for it. From very early on I'd find it asleep, upside down on the bottom of the tank or 'parked' in a corner using the filter piping as a wedge to keep itself upright.

As a result I've always been very careful with the fish when it comes to feeding etc and was content that as long as it could keep itself upright and it could power itself down to the bottom with a shimmy to feed, then it was as okay as it could be.

However, last week I found the fish swimming on its side at the top of the tank. It can still power itself down in to the lower parts of the tank when it wants to but its default is now to float on the top on its side. This was Sunday. So for Mon-Weds I didnt feed the tank and added some Interpet Swimbladder plus treatment just in case it had picked up a bacterial infection and the yesterday I started on peas.

Just wondering if anyone has any other ideas and how long is a reasonable time to try to solve the issue before accepting there may be permanent damage? I really dont want to have to euthanize the fish and you can tell it knows this situation isnt right as it rights itself when you walk up to the tank and has been very cooperative in letting me apply stress coat etc.
 

Colin_T

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What are you feeding the fish?

If you are feeding it dry floating food, then it probably doesn't have a swim bladder problem and simply has air in its intestine. When fish eat dry food and floating food from the surface, they take in air along with the food. Dry food also has air in it. The air goes through their digestive tract and eventually gets farted out the back end (yes fish do fart). While the air is in the body, the fish will have trouble remaining buoyant in the water and float up to the surface as soon as they stop swimming.

With short bodied fish like fantail goldfish, balloon mollies, etc, the fish's intestine is squished up due to inbreeding to make the shorter fish. Any air in the intestine has to go up and down and around bends due to the intestine being squished up. Any air that is in the intestine is going to be more difficult to remove compared to a normal shaped fish with a straight digestive tract.

To see if it is dry food causing the problem, stop feeding dry food for 2 weeks and use frozen (but defrosted) or live food instead. Make sure the goldfish have plenty of plant matter in their diet.

Feed the fish 3 times a day with frozen or live foods to help push the air out of the intestine. If there is no improvement after a few days without dry food, then the fish probably has a swim bladder problem. However, there is no cure for swim bladder issues so don't get sucked into medications that claim they treat swim bladder problems.

Do a big water change and gravel clean the substrate every day or two while feeding more often, to keep the water clean.
 
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JPMcQueen

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Hi, thanks for the reply. Food has always been a combination of frozen food (blood worms etc), Soilent Green and occasional peas, corn, carrots etc.
 

Colin_T

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Post a picture and short 30 second video of the fish?
If the pictures are too big for the website, set the camera's resolution to its lowest setting and take some more. The lower resolution will make the images smaller and they should fit on this website. Check the pictures on your pc and find a couple that are clear and show the problem, and post them here. Make sure you turn the camera's resolution back up after you have taken the pics otherwise all your pictures will be small.

If the video is too big for this website, post it on YouTube and copy & paste the link here. We can view it at YouTube. If you are using a mobile phone to take the video, have the phone horizontal so the video takes up the entire screen. If you have the phone vertical, you get video in the middle and black on either side.
 
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JPMcQueen

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Here you go. Just to add, I'm doing large water changes every other day at the moment with API Stress Coat.
 

Naughts

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Aww, poor thing, must be exhausting. :( I hope you find a solution.
 

Colin_T

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It's either air in the intestine or a problem with the swim bladder. Drop the plant matter and just feed it prawn for a few days. If it doesn't improve after a few days eating prawn and nothing else, then it has an issue with the swim bladder and can't be treated.

Does the fish gasp at the surface at all?
If it does it might be taking in air that way.
 
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JPMcQueen

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I'm going to try another cycle of not feeding and then I'll switch on to prawn. I'm also trying to see if there are any vets relatively nearby who are willing to deal with fish, they're rare as hens teeth in the UK though.

It never used to gasp at the surface but does a little bit now its on its side but I think thats as a consequence of it floating sideways rather than anything else.
 

Colin_T

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Normal vets are useless when it comes to fish health issues. Google "fish vets" in your area and see if there are any. You can also contact your Department of Agriculture and see if they have an animal health lab. They normally have fish health vets there and are usually free to the general public.
 
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JPMcQueen

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Yeah, I'm really struggling to find one that isnt 100 miles away.

Its looking like I may need to euthanize the fish as its still not showing any improvement and its not fair on it to spend its life on its side, even if it still willing to feed.

I am tempted to try and vent the swimbladder myself though having watched a few videos. Figure its worth a try if the alternative is to euthenisation.
 
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JPMcQueen

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okay, a little update on this just in case its ever useful to someone.

I did the procedure myself this morning and removed about 2ml of air from the swimbladder. The fish is no longer swimming on its side at the surface, its on its side at the bottom.

I'm going to give it a few days to recover and see if it can balance itself out after the damage to its bladder has healed and then I'll review. I may need to take a little more air out as there was no resistance at 2ml, I just didnt want to over deflate it.

However, my gut feeling is that it wont make much difference. I think the bladder is overdeveloped to one side of the fishes body and so it may not be able to recover adequately.

We'll see.
 
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JPMcQueen

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Another update approximately a week after performing the procedure. The fish appears to be making a recovery now (although I dont want to count my chickens). It has an ulcer/blister on one side of its gills presumably from having laid pretty much motionless on that side for a week. In the grand scheme of things though that should be relatively easy to treat.

I kept the fish in the smaller containers for a week, performing daily water changes and leaving the next days water out over night to get up to temperature. Then adding stress coat shortly before moving the fish in to the fresh water.

I'm going to move it over to the larger container tomorrow to allow it more depth to move around and test its buoyancy control but at the moment its swimming as well as it ever has.

The noise in the background is my coffee machine btw, and nothing to do with the air pump!
 
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