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ArchimedesTheBrave

Overgrown Wen, Trouble Swimming. Help!

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This isn't exactly a disease, but I saw no better category for help.

I have a 3 y.o., 8" male oranda who has a wen that is growing out of control. I am an experienced fishkeeper and have performed the wen trimming surgery on him 3 times prior to this post. After each trim his wen seems to grow back more and more quickly. The last wen trimming I did was only 6 weeks ago and how he is back to having trouble swimming and orienting himself. The poor thing can't see, has trouble feeding and often ends up upside down in corners because his wen has thrown off his balance.. Has anybody ever experienced a wen that must be trimmed as often as this? I do not feel comfortable anesthetizing him every 6 weeks to trim his wen, it seems cruel. But his life now is not great either. He is not from a reputable breeder (bought him at PetsMart before I knew anything), but he is well cared for and lives in a 40 gal breeder with one other 7" oranda goldfish. 

I'm having trouble uploading pics with a bad internet connection, but I'll keep trying.

Any advice or solutions would be much appreciated. Because right now I'm beginning to think euthanasia may be kinder for him.

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Although you've already told us some of the info, I'd suggest filling out the check list just to help us get an idea of what your conditions are like:

https://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/topic/116133-help-request-check-list/

And here are some instructions to help out:

https://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/topic/123853-filling-out-the-dd-form/

I believe wen growth is caused by foods with high protein.  A change in diet may help slow wen growth.  Be sure to fill out the info about feeding as thoroughly as possible.  

Get that info to us and we'll figure out how to get this fish happy!

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Thanks Acro, I've filled out the questionnaire for you:

Test Results for the Following:

 Ammonia Level(Tank)    Test Strips don't say

 Nitrite Level(Tank)    0

 Nitrate level(Tank)    40

 Ammonia Level(Tap)    Test Strips don't say

 Nitrite Level(Tap)    0

 Nitrate level(Tap)    20

 Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) pH: 7.0, KH: 120, GH: 180

 Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)    pH:7.0, KH: 120, GH: 180

Other Required Info:

 Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? I used API brand test strips

 Water temperature?    76 degrees F, heater regulated

 Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?    40 gal breeder, 3 years running

 What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?    Aquaclear 50, plus a 6" sponge filter

 How often do you change the water and how much?    once per week, about 45% change (18 gallons)

 How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?    changed water today (5/08), did standard 18 gallon change. 

 How many fish in the tank and their size?    For about 1 year I had 2 juvenile  bristlenose plecos and 2 mature (7" and 8") oranda goldfish. The plecos were removed about 4 weeks ago, so now it just has the 2 goldies.

 What kind of water additives or conditioners?   I use Seachem Prime conditioner, occasionally add aquarium salt at half dose (4-5 Tbsp/40 gal) therapeutically after wen trimmings. 

 What do you feed your fish and how often?  Tank is fed 2x/day, they get a rotating variety of: Bug Bites Pleco Formula, Bug Bites Goldfish Formula, New Life Spectrum Cichlid Formula, very infrequently they get Fresh Frozen Brine Shrimp and Fresh Frozen Blood worms (leftovers from feeding my betta). There are also plants in the tank that the fish nibble on, and I give them bits of vegetables to nibble on. 

 Any new fish added to the tank?  No

 Any medications added to the tank?  No, not recently, see below.

 List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank.Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.   

The only medication the tank has received was in its first year of running, one fish suffered an anchor worm infection. Visible parasites were manually removed, fish treated with salt dip. Treated tank and fish with ParaGuard per instructions (5mL/40 gal, repeated daily for 3 days), and Microbe-Lift Lice & Anchor Worm treatment (1 tsp/20 gal, provided 1 treatment). After treatment the tank was given a complete decontamination with 100% water change, wash out and treatment with hydrogen peroxide. Fish were replaced in tank and have shown no signs of parasites for over 2 years. 

 Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?   The affected fish shows some pronounced caudal fin ray arteries, and 2 small spots of fin tip damage (bloody, irritated looking) on the caudal fin. 

 Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?   Affected fish struggles to maintain body position in the water. Head sinks the whole fish to the bottom (as seen in the included picture) and then flips him upside down when he tries to rest. His wen is disproportionately large compared to the rest of his body and affects his eyesight and feeding (he cannot see his food, he relies on chancing upon it once it sinks to the bottom of the tank). Despite his struggles, he actively swims as best as he can and has had no loss in appetite.

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

Archimedes2.1.jpg

Archimedes1.1.jpg

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Oh what a cutie!  It’s a tough situation, because unless there are underlying symptoms causing weakness the wen trims are good advice.  Another thing to try - if you put him in shallow after, no deeper than six inches, is he still flipping and struggling with buoyancy?

I do note high nitrates going on, but it looks like that’s a tap issue to some extent.  Still you may consider running some terrestrial plants like pothos in a basket in the back of the tank, their roots can help very much with uptake of that excess nitrate.  We have had several good discussions about that around here over the years :)

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Taryl, thanks for the advice! I had forgotten about the plant in the filter method. Obviously keeping plants IN the tank yield very short lived results.

I tried the 6" water test, and while his head still sank to the bottom, it was less pronounced since he had less room in the water column. I should mention that when I remove a significant amount of wen material during trimmings he is able to swim and feed and see without difficulty. His symptoms go away until his wen grows back. 

My primary concern is if it is ethical and safe to anesthetize him every 6 weeks to trim his wen. I know that every time I anesthetize him its a risk and he may stop breathing or react adversely. And its stressful on him.

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Yes, I agree it’s not awesome to trim a wen so frequently.  I’d definitely do an under bed tote or wading pool setup for him since this is a regularly occurring thing, along with addressing the nitrates through terrestrial root uptake.  It’s easiest and least invasive; plus inexpensive.

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For those who have Wen experience, if the fish in question were to have another Wen trimming, would you recommend a diet of lower protein to slow Wen growth?  Maybe commercial food one time a day and veggies the 2nd feeding?

I've only had one red cap oranda and that was 10ish years ago, so I don't feel qualified to give advice on wen growth and food (but I will gladly share what seems to be possible solutions).

Another thought . . . would a colder water temp slow wen growth?  It was mentioned that the aquarium is kept at "76 degrees F" and that it is "heater regulated".  Maybe take out the heater completely (unless it gets very cold)?

Last thought, but not related to wen growth, I'd suggest getting a drop test kit to replace the strips when you run out.  The drop test kits are much more accurate when testing water.  Also, an ammonia test kit is highly recommended.  It's a great way to prevent any sudden changes from throwing everything off.

Edited by Acro

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On 5/12/2019 at 9:24 PM, Acro said:

For those who have Wen experience, if the fish in question were to have another Wen trimming, would you recommend a diet of lower protein to slow Wen growth?  Maybe commercial food one time a day and veggies the 2nd feeding?

I wonder that myself. I haven't had a fish like that in years. I did have one many moons ago and had the same issue with him as he got older. The one thing I would like to suggest for this fish and the other is Duckweed. Duckweed is a great food for them and if they fish is having some swimming issues it may help him out. Plus lowering the amount of pellets might help too.

On 5/12/2019 at 9:24 PM, Acro said:

I've only had one red cap oranda and that was 10ish years ago, so I don't feel qualified to give advice on wen growth and food (but I will gladly share what seems to be possible solutions).

Please do share :) 

On 5/12/2019 at 9:24 PM, Acro said:

Another thought . . . would a colder water temp slow wen growth?  It was mentioned that the aquarium is kept at "76 degrees F" and that it is "heater regulated".  Maybe take out the heater completely (unless it gets very cold)?

That I dont know either but I dont have a heater in with mine. In fact they have never had a heater on since I got them about 4 years ago :) 

On 5/12/2019 at 9:24 PM, Acro said:

Last thought, but not related to wen growth, I'd suggest getting a drop test kit to replace the strips when you run out.  The drop test kits are much more accurate when testing water.  Also, an ammonia test kit is highly recommended.  It's a great way to prevent any sudden changes from throwing everything off.

I totally agree :thumbs: 

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2 hours ago, koko said:

I wonder that myself. I haven't had a fish like that in years. I did have one many moons ago and had the same issue with him as he got older. The one thing I would like to suggest for this fish and the other is Duckweed. Duckweed is a great food for them and if they fish is having some swimming issues it may help him out. Plus lowering the amount of pellets might help too.

Please do share 

That I dont know either but I dont have a heater in with mine. In fact they have never had a heater on since I got them about 4 years ago 

I totally agree 

I did share what I thought were possible solutions: less protein & cooler water.  :P  

It is said that wen growth comes from high protein, so it seems logical that less protein would equal less wen growth.  And it's said that warmer temps increase metabolic function, thus cause faster growth.  So it seems logical that cooler temps, aka no heater (unless needed for dangerously low cold temps) would slow growth too.  The combination may be exactly what is needed for this wen heavy fish!  But as stated, I have little wen-fish experience, but from 10+ years of reading and equal time of fish keeping, the two suggestions just seem like a possible solution.  :)

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I had one fish that had major wen overgrowth. I picked her out because she had this cute little top hat instead of a wen that spread all over her head.  But as she matured, the wen kept growing down in front of her eyes on her cheeks and behind her head.  In time she couldn't see at all.  The weight of the wen was such that she couldn't get to duckweed or any other floating food.  Her head went down, but her mouth couldn't reach food on the bottom.  She could only eat food that I fed her by hand and missed most of that.

I kept planning to do surgery but always found excuses for not doing it.  (The thought of doing surgery makes me sick.) The fish eventually refused food and died.  While underfeeding and eventually starving, the wen continued to grow.

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