Firstly, can I say I spent a long time reading through the equally-long sticky-post on swimbladder problems, to see if there was any fresh information that I could make use of for my sick goldfish. What I would like to do is post a few photos here, to see what others might think. My old fish (he's eighteen) became sick a few weeks ago, unexpectedly. He shares a 350 litre tank with a few weatherloaches and all have been in good shape for a long time. The water level has been lowered recently to allow the fish easier access to the tank floor. First of all, he started to show a slight up-ending of the tail end while resting on the floor of the tank. A few days later, this increased until the fish was seen one morning foraging in a totally vertical position. A few days later he began to float upside down, with the vent area developing a bulge. The tank has been treated with anti-internal bacteria remedy, then (after a rest period) swimbladder treatment (currently in progress). I don't tend to have much faith in either of these, but it's all I can get, so better to do something at least. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrate currently around 20ppm, I am doing a small water-change this morning and calculating a top-up for the meds.
Thing is, I cannot work out why the vent area is so swollen. The fish is not pine-coning, by the way. He just floats head down much of the time, but despite this is still attempting to collect food and swims strongly when he does move around. I cannot decide whether the swimbladder has been compromised, or there's a digestive problem, or if it's a tumour.....however the onset was quite fast, so bacteria was my first thought.
I've given him a day or so without food and provided more veg, eg peas, some broccoli; and spaced the food offerings out, over the daytime. I use Vitalis sinking pellets, the loaches like these and the fish also eats them, so those get used once a day. I am not expecting any miracles here; I have run out of options and apart from completing the swimbladder treatment I'm just trying to keep him clean and comfortable. I see I can only upload one photo, though.
I've read through your post carefully and what you've done so far, and you've done exactly what I would have done - lowered the tank water level, tested the water to ensure that it remained at 0 ammonia and nitrite and <20 nitrates, altered the diet, altered the feeding regime (fasting for a day or two and spacing the feeding out over the course of the day), and attempted to treat with anti- bacterial medication.
The only other suggestions I'd have would be: * to try Waterlife Myxazin or eSHa 2000 for bacterial infections which have a particularly good reputation, if it wasn't either of these brands that you've tried already; equally, though, I'm also conscious that your fish is not young, and I wouldn't want him overloaded with medication in case it's too much for him - so I'd leave it for a couple of weeks at least after finishing the current treatment course; * I'm not sure you'll find anything new in this article but thought I'd post it just in case: http://injaf.org/aquarium-fish/the-go ... bladderbuoyancy-problems/ * to try doing a small water change of 10% each day if at all possible - my recollection was that my goldfish struggled in summer (discovered in hindsight that the higher temperature would have reduced oxygen levels) but livened up and moved around much more competently with some cooler water added; * a couple of folk have previously mentioned Repashy Soilent Green helping goldfish or foods containing spirulina.
The up-ending of the tail is something I've had happening in a few of my elderly fish, and I do wonder if gradual deterioration of swimbladder function causes this as a sort-of compensatory method for swimming; I'm conscious, though, that you've noticed a sudden deterioration and, in that case, the medication route has been a good option.
As for the enlarged vent, I do recall my goldfish experiencing this. My fancy goldfish had swallowed gravel and I assume she expelled it out her vent, while I definitely noticed it larger shortly before she finally succumbed. My common/comet goldfish had a larger vent following ingesting and expelling sand which came out very thickly and his vent never returned to normal size in the years that followed. In your case, whether or not it is something like this or of the nature of other alternative suggestions you mention, we'll probably never be sure.
From what you've written, I don't think there's a case for an anti- internal parasite treatment. As there's no pineconing or bloating, then Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) bath dips probably wouldn't help either. I did used to find some temporary benefit from aquarium salt (sodium chloride) but I was less aware of alternative options back then and you've since tried those, so I don't think it would be of much help either.
I'll keep my "thinking cap" on. I know it might well simply be an age-related decline but if there's anything else at all that I think might help, I'll get back to you.
Hi fcmf That's great, it is a comfort to me right now to feel I'm on the right lines. You know, you mentioned Myxazin, darn me I had a bottle of Waterlife Ulcer and Finrot treatment in my cupboard....never even thought about it, because it's for finrot....and there's the word Myxazin on the bottle! I haven't opened it, it was purchased just a few weeks ago to replace my old out-of-date stock. I won't use it on the fish as yet...he's only just had day 4 of Interpet Swimbladder. Today he has spent quite a while upside down, a bit of food this morning including a piece of pea, but I've just looked and he's trying to pass a large poo. It must be terrible trying to do it upside down. I can't do anything except leave him to it and hope he can get it out. Looks vegetable-like (yesterday's broccoli) but also some darker stuff coming behind.
His tank temperature is being kept around 24 degrees C because I understand it helps with digestion. Yes he's a real character and it's a misery to see him this way; but also yes he is old and I am prepared for the fact that we may lose him.
I have an update to share; after a fair amount of research and asking questions, it appears my fish may well be a girl, and not the boisterous male I've taken him/her for all these years. The possibility of ovarian cysts. Her swelling is not reduced in size. It is not rock-hard but "turgid", I think might be a good word. I have started some epsom salts baths but she doesnt like being hauled out of the tank for them. I will somehow have to get her to a vet, I fear also it may be a one-way trip for her if things have gone too far. (gulp). Now summoning up courage to make the next move.
Thanks for the update. Ah well - these days, anything goes! :)
That is indeed a plausible explanation for the problem. How are you moving her into the tank for the Epsom salt baths? I tend to find large jugs or plastic containers easier to move fish - perhaps guided in with a net - than using a net per se. I'm almost certain that I've read about ways of 'massaging' the fish to help with some problems albeit usually impacted eggs - but it would need to be undertaken very carefully if attempted.
I really do empathise with that difficult decision. I agree that it's likely the trip will be one-way - when my goldfish was ten, a vet was reluctant to operate (if the condition came to that) due to his age, although I think some are more willing now to operate on older fish than back then. You might find this helpful, if you live in the UK: https://www.fishvetsociety.org.uk/inte ... illing-to-treat-pet-fish/ Beforehand, you might find www.justanswer.com (the US version, where there are more aquatic vets) helpful - before I joined UK forums, I got some extremely helpful advice from aquatic vet staff there. If the trip to the vet were for assessment/ potential treatment (and euthanasia if that were the conclusion reached), then it's worth going. If it were purely for euthanasia, then there are ways of undertaking this humanely at home - via clove oil or Aqua-Sed - but I completely appreciate you may prefer not to do it yourself.
Thanks fc. I have had to move her with a net at present; it's not ideal, but she's big (nine inches without the tailfin); and I have to stand on a chair to reach into the tank to get her out. It would be good to get a 10-litre bucket into the tank, but it has sliding doors at the top and this restricts access somewhat. She'd jump out of anything smaller, for sure. It's funny you mentioned JustAnswer, I discovered the UK site only a few days ago. A vet there was great, she looked at photos and suggested the fish might have cysts, it was really so helpful that I'd recommend it. (That's not being negative about the forums, by the way! ).The website itself isn't that brilliant in terms of function (I think it lets the experts down) but on the other hand it was worth a punt, under the circumstances. Thanks for the list, there's no one listed there in my area within easy reach, but I think I may have someone. I don't think I could do a euthanasia job myself...it kinda grinds on my thoughts ...where there's life there's hope...but yes, I have to grit my teeth and make the next move.
Quick update; finally....I have a visit to the vet booked. Next Tuesday. Telephone discussion suggested possible ovarian cysts or tumour. I shall feel terrible over the coming few days, but she must be taken along to diagnose it once and for all. Will update.
Final update. Our old girl was transported to the vet this afternoon, for an ultrasound scan. I am giving the results here in case it may help others in the future who experience something similar with their fish. Firstly; the big swelling under her tail was gas. The swimbladder had been pushed right down towards her tail-end and had a twist in it, thus trapping gas at one end....and causing the flotation. The items responsible for pushing the swimbladder out of shape were the kidneys...developing cysts, and gradually beginning to fail in their functions. Her body was apparently starting to slowly collect fluid as a result of the kidneys failing....no pine-coning seen, but the vet suggested it was just starting to show a little. It is likely that within a few weeks, the fish would have been developing all the signs of kidney failure in the form of dropsy. It was clear that her bodyclock was winding down; we agreed that she should be put to sleep and this was done....she passed away gently and peacefully under sedation and anaesthetic injection. After twenty years of having Madam alongside me in her tank, at the home-office desk, it's going to be very lonely....but I am glad that she will not suffer any more (especially from potential dropsy) and am grateful to have had her for so many years. RIP my little soldier....bold and brave to the end.