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Comet Not Opening Mouth Fully, Trouble Eating


Mark_C

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  • Test Results for the Following:
    Ammonia Level? 0
    Nitrite Level? 0
    Nitrate level? 0
    Ph Level, (If possible,KH and GH and chloramines)? 7.5
    Ph Level out of the Tap? 7.5
  • Tank size (How many Gals) and How long has it been running? 50 Gallon
  • What is the name and size of the filter/s? Its an AquaOne 980 tank and the filter is the one suplied with that, couldn't find any other ratings
  • How often do you change the water and how much? usually 4 weeks approx 30% change
  • How many fish in the tank and their size? 3 fish, 2 are comets body length about 3 inch, but over 5 inches total length as their tails are huge, the common is slightly smaller about 2.5 inch body length
  • What kind of water additives or conditioners? Prime conditioner and pura water (biiological cleaner)
  • Any medications added to the tank? no
  • Add any new fish to the tank? no
  • What do you feed your fish? TetraFin flakes, and tetra ColorBits granules
  • Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt", bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? no
  • Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, ect..? no
    The problem I am having is one of my comets has suddenly started to have trouble picking up food, when I feed them they normally grab some food from the top and catch other bits as it sinks, then they will clean up the bits that make it to the bottom
    This one is struggling to eat any of these way, he doesn't seem able to open his mouth fully when he tries to eat, it looks like it is opening on one side, he will occasionally open all the way, but doesn't seem to catch any floating food as he does.
    He seems very hungry and will spend ages trying to pick a piece up from the gravel but his success rate is very low, more often than not his attempts will just move the food into the path of one of the others who grab it immediately.
    He also shakes his head sometimes as he tries to grab the food, I don't know if this is a pain reaction making him jerk, or whether he is actually trying to work out a way of getting the food into one side of his mouth
    It is distressing to see him try so hard to eat, and I am worried he will start to get ill quickly or starve to death as he is burning a lot of energy and not eating.
    I can't see anything else wrong with him, (or the others) he is energetic, and friendly still, but I have watched him over 3 feeds on last 2 days and he is definitely not getting anything, until I crumbed some granules into powder, rustled him away from the others and gave it to him, he seemed to get a small amount before it dispersed too much.
    Has anyone got any suggestions of what this could be? and how I can help him get better?
    I am assuming he has injured his mouth rather than it being an infection, but I am a novice with this so could really do with good suggestions

Thanks in advance

Mark

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Hi MarK! :hi

I'm sorry that you're having problems with your fish! I'm rather new to the forum myself, but you'll find a lot of help here!

I did notice that you have zero nitrates, and you didn't mention how long your tank has been running. They'll need to know how long it's been up, since zero nitrates can mean that your tank isn't cycled yet.

I won't attempt to diagnose your fish, but my fish had a similar problem (among others). He couldn't seem to "suck in" the food the way he used to. I know how frustrating and worrying it is when your fish can't/won't eat. But he's a regular piglet now, thanks to Koko's!

Best of luck to you and your fish! The people here are great - and are extremely knowledgeable! You've come to the right place for help! :exactly

:goodluck

Debbie

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Hi Debbie, thanks for the reply.

My tank has been running for over 6 months now, I have had the fish for 2 years, when I started the tank I used water from their old tank to get it going (but wasn't much as this one is much bigger) and ran it for a couple of weeks before the fish went in, all seems to be OK until now.

I have only just got the test kit for nitrates and nitrites, previously I was just testing PH and amonia (which are exactly the same results I always get)

I will re test the nitrates and post the results.

I am going to try him with some crushed pellet food, and possibly put him in a segregation net to feed him or a couple of days, looking at him now his mouth actually looks a little lopsided when shut, but it is a new development so I guess he is injured.

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Hi Mark and welcome,

There are afew things at odds here. First up is the nitrates. That being 0 would seem very odd in a 6 month cycled tank that is only getting one 30% water change a month.

I think possibly if you are new to nitrate testing the nitrate kit is alittle temperamental. The first bottle usually has to be shaken for at least aminute or so before the chemicals are activated and ready to use. I presume you have the drop testkit. the srip tests are really not accurate at all.

The second thing that needs attention and very fast is your water changing routine. You have commons and comets and these are some of the larger growing, faster swimming poop- machines of the goldfish world and as they grow the waste they produce can be something totally incredible. In a 50 gallon tank (which many here will say is overstocked with 3 of these kinds of fish) you will need to be doing that water change at a minimum weekly and probably 50% because of the overstocking factor. You also need to be extreemly vigil on filter maintenance. Rinsing all sludge off once a week in old tank water or treated and Primed tap water.

The amount of water recommended to change out is based on how many fish/how much you feed/ and how big the tank is. So you definitely need to do a big water change immediately, temperature and pH matched of course as usual with the Prime you use. Prime is a great water conditioner.

Now, about your poor fishes mouth. I suspect since it is lopsided and he can open it some my first guess is he has an ulcer or mouth bacterial infection. I don't think the mouth would be able to shut at all if apiece of gravel were lodegd in there.

If you don't mind handling the fish gently here is what you can do. Make sure you have a good llight (ask your child or a helper to point a torch of light near as you do this) if you can very gently raise the fish to the surface, very slowly just enough to let the mouth (not the body) come up out of the water you can get a good look inside the mouth. Be very careful not to press the gills where the fish is breathing, so hold gently. As the mouth comes out of the water your fish will automatically open it as much as he is able. Try to get a look and see if there is any cottony growth or a large white or red lump inside the mouth.

If this scares you try at feeding time to take a better look- with a torch is best. Soon.

Both mouth ulcers and infection can be cured but please post back first and tell us what you can see in his mouth. A water change is absolutely crucial too. Fish cannot get better in water with a high bacterial load. Post back soon :)

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Just for some more info, he did a longish stringy light coloured poop this evening, so hopefully means he is digesting something at least

My daughter also told me he had a long large piece of plant stuck in his mouth recently, which he did spit out after a few minutes, but he had seemed a little distressed.

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Hi Trinket, thanks for the reply, I was posting the other one and didn't see it at first

I did a water change (30%) yesterday, would that affect the nitrate readings?

I will do another tomorrow.

I currently have some carbon filters, but I have some new white wool (wool stuff?) ones in a packet, should I replace these with the non carbon ones before starting any treatments or medications?

Please advise if I should do this with the water change.

I will try and get him up for a look in his mouth in the morning, and post what I find,

I just read the poop diagnosis and his thin long stringy poops make it sound like a bacterial infection, they were light coloured too, although not quite white, so any advice on treating this would be very welcome.

Just for information, the other 2 fish poops are short to medium length and dark coloured, they seem darker in colour to the food they get, is this normal?

I guess they may also be getting some of the plants they nibble at, that may be changing the colour.

Many thanks again for your help, its good to know there are knowledgeable people out there who will offer help with these crisis

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Mark -if you could let us know what you see in the mouth- that will dictate what to do next. Meanwhile I suspect that if you got another filter hooked up on the tank that would really help enormously. That might be all thats needed along with more water changes to keep the bacteria from skyrocketing to levels that become dangerous and then precipitate infection.

The nitrates are reduced via water changes yes but a 30 % water change would only reduce them by 30%. Still odd as I would expect nitrates at 50-100 in a tank with these 3 fish and only one w/c a month. Do you have alot of green water/algae? That of course keeps nitrates low. Great stuff.

The other 2 fishes poop sounds normal. Yes the thin white poop is probably indicative of bacterial infection given the mouth problems. On its own it si not but with another symptom yes maybe.

Post back when you can get a closer look and I should do another 30% w/c tomorrow to help clear out some of those accumulating bacteria.

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Hi again

Yes I do have some algae, the leaves of the plant have some on them, and it does build up on the glass between water changes, the water itself doesn't change colour much though

Do you think the pura water (biological additive) I use could be causing problems do you? this is a link to the stuff

Will let you know what his mouth is like tomorrow if I can catch him OK

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Hey Mark,

I wont interrupt Trinket's excellent advice, she's fantastic... But since I'm on, I checked out that pure water stuff, it says it maintains biological filtration by removing ammo etc. it doesn't say how, (ie whether it's a concentrated bacterial fluid or whether it's like an ammonia-sequestering chemical) but I'm guessing it's the bacterial liquid, it wont harm your goldfish, if it works (and there's a fair amount of doubt that it does out there) it should actually compete with the bad bacteria that can cause infection, but either way, I don't think it'd harm your fish. If it does turn out to be a bacterial problem, it'll be most likely because of the increased organic load through not enough water-changes (levels of bacteria can become rife as they love all the organic waste left from the goldfish. no amount of filtration can replace regular waterchanges to reduce the levels of organics in your tank..) The nitrate level is sort of an indication of the level of other organic compounds that are in your tank.

The way I look at it, high levels of organics in the water suppresses your fish's immune system, they'll exist in bad water for quite a while until their immune system is finally eroded to a point of not being able to recover (bit like a human transplant patient that is on immunosuppressants is very vulnerable to succumb to even the most basic sniffle) and at that point with such a high level of bacteria in the water, the fish starts to get sick... and the best thing you can do for them is to keep them in the best/cleanest water possible to remove organics/bacteria, they respond very well to this treatment, you often get better results from just doing water changes than you can buying random over the counter remedies from your petshop without really knowing what your fish is sick from (these are often quite toxic and can often tip your sick fish over the edge if their system is particularly fragile due to illness). Sorry, that wasn't meant to sound like a lecture, to me, it's the way I personally view/understand health in goldfish and I think it's a good way for people to understand/justify the reason why lots of waterchanges are essential to fish keeping. Hope this helps/gives you insight... Back to you Imo....

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Thanks everyone for your help and advice, I really appreciate it.

And Mads, no it didn't sound like a lecture at all, the more good advice I get the happier I am.

Update time:

I am having some trouble getting him to the surface to check his mouth, he really is not keen on the handling thing, but he is not nervous of my hands around him so will let him calm down and try again later.

I did get him into a segregation net (breeder basket thingy) which he was not too happy about at first, but he calmed down fairly quickly and I offered him some flake food, I thought this would be a good way of seeing exactly what he can and can't eat, he struggled a little but managed to eat some, this has made my day, I am really pleased that he got some food, he also immediately pooped, and it was 3 short lumps dark green in colour, I think he has been plant nibbling, and maybe even the disturbed algae from the last water change/clean.

The improvements are very encouraging, but I am still worried about it as he still seems to have the sore mouth

I also did a 30% water change again today, I always do this with a gravel vac as a syphon, and I thought I had been cleaning the gravel well, but this time I tried a new technique and pushed the vac tube harder into the gravel, I was amazed with the amount of mess that came out, I think the fish were too as they watched the muck going up the clear tube and every time they saw something that looked edible they would try and grab it through the plastic :D it was a good fun cleaning session.

A fair amount of the muck was just algae from the gravel I disturbed, but there was definitely too much poop and a little bit of leftover food too.

I guess I have learned that my cleaning and water change regime needs some improvement.

Their tank and water must be significantly better now, I will retest all the params in a few hours.

I also rinsed the filters, and thought I would ask advice on this as you suggested a second filter.

The current setup is an overhead filter, there is a 250GPH flow rate, it uses a powerhead to pick up, then sprays through a large tube across 3 filter baskets.

All 3 of the baskets are setup with a coarse black sponge first, then a wool(floss)/carbon cartridge underneath, followed by ceramic hoops, the water gets well aerated through here (I also have a large bubble wall type air stone)

I am not entirely sure the filters are setup correctly this way, the shop I bought the aquarium from advised me to do it this way, but the instructions showed the carbon/wool cartridge on top, followed by black sponge, then ceramic hoops, the store insisted its a misprint and they always do it the other way.

any reccomendations would be usefull there.

I also figure that I have 5X filtration using this, so if it will be beneficial I will definitely buy another filter, and I could use some suggestions on what type.

I have seen 10x filtration reccomended, so I guess I need a minimum of another 250GPH, should I stick to that?

will it be a problem if I over filtered? say if I got a 400gph or there abouts?

I post reply when I can (hopefully) get a look in his mouth later

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I have been trying again and watching him for a while, I managed to get a couple of quick peeks inside his mouth, I couldn't really see anything unusual, and nothing that looks like cotton, although I really couldn't see that well either, his mouth was never open for long.

He is still not to keen on being handled, he is fine touch my hand/fingers but gets panicky if I move him towards the surface, should I keep trying this?

I did manage to get much better close up look at his mouth when closed though, and it looks like his top lip stays partially stuck out, the other 2 fish seem to be able to roll their top lip back tight when they close their mouths, this one doesn't seem able to do that properly, does that give any clues?

I will try and get a picture maybe it will help.

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I managed to get some pics that really show the problem off, I hope it is Ok to post them here.

His top lip started to look like this at the same time he started having the problem, sometimes it looks worse than others, I hope this helps

He is the guy on the left

lips1.jpg

Another view

lips2.jpg

And 1 more, this is at its worst

lips3.jpg

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It sound to me alot like baterial infection, I use to have a fish, it's nto goldfish though, he cant eat his mouth cant close all the way, then i notice he got mouth fungus, he have long stringy poo, i treat him with melafix but was to late, so watch out for your goldies! and good luck.

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Hi Mark and thanks for posting the (cute) pics of your fish :) Mads has given you valuable advice about the water. I completely agree with her that more water changes and the more energetic type of gravel vacs are the way to go. I have to say and I wonder if you agree Mads or anyone looking at those pics that it could actually be a wound . It looks like a slice across the lip and that is easily done on a plant of the type (useless at plant names I am) that I see you have in there with the long slender leaves. Even more so when you say that he likes to eat those plants (and hey what normal healthy goldie doesn't!!! :D ) It is really hard to be certain and I still think you should try and get a better look inside the mouth to be sure nothing is going on there.

Can you see any small raised pimples or spots around the sore area?

What kind of medicines can you get where you are? Mads would know as I see you are in the same country...I'm thinking a topical antibiotic ointment might be useful here for the first plan of action. Pristene water paramount. You can up your filtration by adding a second filter it will help by giving the tank another colonisation platform for the good bacteria but the water changes still need to be much more frequent.

I don't think you should add any meds other than melafix perhaps to the water - just clean water and close observation. I can't see any sign of infection yet but it can happen fast with a gash so watch him closely. You could add a few drops of melafix/tea tree oil to the tank if you can get it.

Try feeding him some different foods. A variety will get his immunity ticking over better. Especially important right now is vitamin C. How old is your fish food? Vitamin C does not last long in fish food (esp. flakes that absorb damp faster) which is why many throw food after 6 months max.

I hope some of this helps a little and others will chime in with comments.

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Hmmn, it could be a slice, although I don't think it'd be the val that did it, -that is tall thin Val right? it's not that hard. hmmn.. I'm not so good at pics. it does look like his mouth is dropped, like he's chewing on something, is it like that all the time? -could it be that he's got something caught in his mouth?

As for meds, yes melafix is available, and is definitely good for external cuts if that's what it is.

What state are you in? if you're in Melbourne we've got really soft water so adding aquarium salts when you do water changes can be beneficial, or if you're from Adelaide, you wouldn't need to bother as adelaide's got really hard water (good for goldies)...

Apart from the mouth he looks relatively healthy.. :idont as for food, as Trinket mentioned try to get some Vit C into them, cut a wedge of orange, make sure that the fleshy part is sort of cut-through so as easily suckable and chuck it in your tank, it might take your goldies a while to catch on if they're accustomed to just flake/pellets, but it's a great way of getting vit C into your fish. I try and give my fish orange at least once a fortnight. Also you could try to feed them peas, just defrost a pea peel off the skin, mush the pea between your fingers and put it in their tank, you could even try hand feeding your fish if he'll come up to your hand.. A varied diet is very good for goldfish.

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Thanks Trinket and Mads.

His lip looks fairly normal at the moment, it seems to get worse when he has been feeding, or trying to feed for a while, he does seem a bit better this afternoon, I guess the water change and being able to feed him has helped.

I can't remember what the plant is called either, but he is the one who seems to wander round and nibble at them the most, the plants were getting quite large too, and spreading across the top a fair bit, I guess he may have cut trying to get at some food against the parts floating at the top, I will trim them back so all strands are upright to be safe.

He also seems to eat algae occasionally, which again I have seen him sucking at the plants in the past to get this

The food I have is fairly fresh, I always buy the small containers it lasts ages as I do try not to overfeed them, I will definitely give the orange a go, and I didn't realise that frozen (defrosted) peas could be used so will try that too, I will see how he is tomorrow at feeding, I have left the net/tank thing in the aquarium too, so I can always pop him in there so he can take his time with the food.

I did grab a small Melafix when I was at the pet store the other day, they reccomended it, but I didn't start using it as their advice isn't often very good, so I came here first. I will give it a try if you think it worthwhile,

I assume it won't have any affect on the others if I use it in the reccomended dose for the aquarium?

BTW

I am in Adelaide, the water here is horrible for us humans, but nice to see it is OK for my fishies at least

I will be changing the water weekly from now on, and I am sure there will be improvements now I know how to vac the gravel properly as well.

I will also add another filter, have you got any advice regarding my filter questions above? or should I post in the relevant forum for a reponse

I really cant say enough, thanks again for your help

Mark

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You're welcome. I'm in Japan so can't really help on the filters as all the names etc here are different but if you aim to get the GPH turnover at 500 that should help a lot. If you dont want to lose precious swimming space in the tank consider an external filter/sump.

You know looking again, his mouth reminds me of chapped lips! I dont know if he could have picked up a scrape from the tank sides if he nibbles on the algae there. Dont get rid of all your algae though having said that, it is nutritional and helps keep nitrates down.

If you can try to get a look and see if there is a lump inside the mouth (when he yawns will do) that might be an ulcer and if not it would seem to be external which will do best with the melafix. It's extremely gentle stuff and you hardly need any at all. One bottle lasts a lifetime!

I should go with the good water and melafix for now and attempts at feeding some vit C and let us know if it gets worse or if he stops being able to eat. I presume he is back in the tank now that he ate, as those baskets can be stressful. Best wishes and good luck.

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As far as filters, I have been told that you can never have too much filtration, you just have to watch and make sure the currents are not too strong. If you can get your filters to produce 500gph, then you will be good, a little extra would not hurt I don't think. Also, I see where you were not aware that gf can eat oranges and peas. Check out the gf food section and you can get a lot of ideas on different goodies to feed your fish. Good luck and I hope your fish gets better soon! :)

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Yes I did put him back in the tank afterwards, I left the breeder baskets thingy in their tank at a lower level, so they can swim in and out of it too, so they don't seem at all bothered by its presence now.

I think I will have to use it again to feed him today as I gave a little flake to them and he still struggled, will wait till later and try some orange and pea when he is in the basket.

I have also noticed his nose? just above his lips looks a bit lighter in colour today, I wouldn't say it's white, but definitely a fair bit paler, it may be from digging in the gravel so much while trying to get food, as he has been doing this for hours over the last few days, and he is quite aggressive at it, thats the worst thing watching him try so hard to get some food out of the gravel, only for it to float up and be grabbed by one of the others :(

Otherwise could that be a clue to any other illness?

Melafix going in today too, the bottle says to use 5ml per 10 US Gallons, and to redose it each day for a week, then do a 25% water change, is that OK?

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That's okay Mark but watch him very closely in the next 24 hours. Not because of the melafix which is very mild but because that sore place can quickly turn to mouth rot which is a bacterial infection that erodes the mouth. I think you have caught it in time and hopefully just increasing those water changes to reduce the high bacterial load responsible for this along with the peas/orange as Nickie and Mads suggested, extra filter and stable pH and temp I hope this will heal up. Keep us up to date.

Edit:Reread the last part... Because of the high levels of bacteria accumulated here you will need instead to be doing 25% water changes I think every second day minimum and replace the melafix you took out. I dont think you should leave this fish in this tank with its present conditions for one week with no water changes, that is asking fro trouble.

You can either move the sick fish to his own container tank QT if you have something you can use, a large rubbermaid works well- or be prepared to do the math and the partial water changes daily or at least every other day.

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Thanks Trinket,

I have a small 5 gallon tank I could clean up and use, it has a small aterfall filter, but hasn't been used for ages so needs cleaning and setting up, and I am not sure whether he would be better in a brand new un-cylced small tank or in this big one?

I am happy enough to do the frequent 25% changes on the big tank if need be, will do one tomorrow, and daily from then

Which do you think would be best?

Also I am a bit unsure about when you said replace the melafix I take out,

do you mean if I change 25% water I just add the corresponding amount of melafix again?

Or should I be adding the full dose every day anyway?

The instructions say I should put more in every day for 7 days, it doesn't say anything about water changes till the end, so from that I assume after a week there would be 7 doses of melafix in the tank?? does that sound right?

I don't mind doing some math to work out correct dosage but I am unsure of what I am rying to achieve

Does my question make sense?

I am getting confused so will try and type it out

The packet seems to suggest I should put 25ml (based on my aquarium size) in every day for 7 days, so by the end it will have had 175ml added, then do a 25% change, so I assume some will still be in the water then? or does it lose effectiveness each day?

So if I do a 25% change every day,

Do I either:

method 1 put 25ml in the tank on day 1

Then put another 6.25ml each day with the 25% new water, so it stays at the original mixture of water melafix?

Method 2 would mean I put 25ml each day

Followed by 31.25ml each day with water change, so by the end of the wek I should have mixed the equivalent amount as per the packet?

Any suggestions?

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:stars Dizzy making isn't it :D

Yes the slowly accumulative effect is what you are after. The reasoning is that any kinds of medicines should be added slowly not to be a burden on the filter bioload or the fish themselves. They need time to adapt. You should also watch out for any reaction. As with stronger meds individual fish have individual reactions.

I don't think the melaleuca (tea-treeoil) loses effectiveness it is just slowly accumulating. It is however removed in the water you take out so your calculations are accurate and if in the main tank you should do the w/cs every other day at 25% I'd say or every day at perhaps 15 or 20%. keeping an eye on water params so you dont get a cycle bump(ammonia or nitrite). You shouldn't.

That dosage gets complex. The alternative is probably to set up a quarantine tank. You say you have one with a small filter, that's perfect and spares you medicating the other 2 fish who are going to be better off in clean water than water with meds however mild .If you have an uncycled QT especially a smaller one you then need to be doing 80% water changes every day for the best water free of toxin build up for the duration of his QT time (one week). If you do that however the dosage is even more complex and almost impossible to achieve. If it was me I would not go with the accumulative melafix. It isn't like antibiotics in that the duration and amount are not necessarily rigidly set. I would go with adding the daily dose 25ml (based on tank size) every day after the 80% w/c so that you get a small extra build up (20% daily) but not as much as you would with one week dosage. Remember this is a small fish and only one fish. That much is plenty I feel.

Do not go over one week with melafix, it may be gentle but overdoing and over use of tea tree oil with fish has been known to damage the liver. Let us know what you decide :)

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I did a 20% water change yesterday, and added my second dose of mela fix, ( I upped the dose to compensate for the 20% change)

I fed him again in the breeder basket, he doesn't seem to stressed by this, as they all happily swim in and out of it during the day, I just slide it up to contain him when I try and give him food.

He is still really struggling to pick any food up, even the food that floats on the surface, as he come up underneath it, tried to open his mouth, and he doesn't seem able to open wide and suck the food in like the other fishies do.

I am going to try hand feeding the orange today, maybe I can cut a piece so I can hold it in a way that makes it easier for him to take

He is much happier being handled and I raised his mouth out of the water a few times yesterday, but he wouldn't open it for a look inside, I will keep trying as he seems unstressed by this now, maybe I will get lucky and get a good look in there

I decided to keep him in the big tank, even though its a bit more work, I didn't want to seperate him from the others.

I will keep the updates coming, hopefully whatever it is will heal

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I see Mark. That will work fine. Good to hear news. The fact he cant even open his mouth enough to let you see all the way inside takes me back to something earlier we said about a topical antibiotic ointment for wounds and gashes- also helpful for bacterial sore places. It might be worth a shot. If you can get hold of one that contains neosporin or something- when you lift his head out you could rub a little of that on. Sold at aquarium stores its waterproof of course and specially for fish. Perhaps you could have a look and see if there is something available like that (as well as the melafix treatment). Mads or an Australian person would be better placed to advise on whats available there.

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Just tried the local store, he didn't have a clue about any kind of ointment that may be available.

There is a bigger store not far from here, so will try them tomorrow,

Mads if you see this do you know of anything available here?

I didn't have much success getting food in him today, he was very interested, including with the orage, but was still having too much trouble catching anything, he tries to take it from my hands too, but didn't have any luck.

I hope he managed to get some of it inside him, he is looking a bit thin behind the gills now :(

He is still swimming around plenty though, and hasn't got lethargic at all, he is quite a clever fishie too, he has adapted very quickly to my attempts at handling him, and he will almost swim into the breeder basket on demand, so he knows I am trying to feed him there.

I really don't know what else to do though, I still can't get him to open his mouth fully, so I never get a good look inside, he will occasionally push his lips rightout and open as he swims around, it looks like he finds it hard to do though, and the poor little guy never seems to do it just at the point he could get some food.

I keep wondering if something may be stuck and partially obstructing his mouth, maybe that is why he doesn't suck very hard, when the others open their mouths like that (with the lips stuck right out) they are like vacum cleaners, anything in front of them gets sucked in

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