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Comet Not Opening Mouth Fully, Trouble Eating


Mark_C

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Aw :cry1 That almost had me teary that he comes to the basket to get his food from you :( . Poor little thing must be very hungry. Mark do you have a small plastic syringe? Only you could get some liquid food into him like that. You can mash some pellets with a tiny weeny bit of tank water or even better mush some peas with water and try very gently. No more than 1.0 mililiters. (up to 2.0 per day)

Meanwhile, I will private message (PM) Mads about wher to get some antibiotic gel for the sore mouth. She may be back on later.

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Hey Mark, sorry for being intermittent on the board.. just got your PM Imo..

as far as I know there is not topical antibiotic in oz like you're suggesting Imo, I have used betadine ointment before for external infections/ulcers to good effect, but because this is going on to the mouth of the fish there is a real risk of poisoning the fish (betadine is the brown iodine solution used to prep human skin for operations etc, iodine is toxic to fish, that's why they suggest not to use table salt for salting tankwater.)

Mark, does the area that's turned white look like it's heaped-up a bit, like an overgrowth of mucus? I'm wondering if it's an overgrowth of slimecoat in that particular area on the mouth. -or if it looks fluffy at all?

For what I can see, the best we've got is melafix or perhaps giving your fish a salt bath, with rock salt (you can get saxa brand rocksalt for about $1 at woolies or coles) this stuff doesn't have Iodine in it. I don't want to suggest using antibiotics as it doesn't really sound like an external bacterial infection, although I will wait until I hear back about the lighter patch on his nose. The antibiotics that we have available in oz are pretty archaic and are often REALLY harsh on the fish (kill or cure type remedy), so if you can avoid the need for them all the better.

Maybe Annette will have better ideas than I've got. :unsure:

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No luck getting food into him again :(

He is in the basket now, and he is chasing the food really hard, but he gets it to the bottom and the others can actually suck it through the netting, even when he has his lips opened right against the food it doesn't go in his mouth, it definitely seems like he cannot suck it inwards.

It is really sad to see him trying so hard, and I just can't think of how to get his mouth open and see inside, and if there is something in there I don't know how I would get it out, I don't want to hurt him by trying to help, but if he doesn't get food soon he is going to starve, I would never have believed fish keeping could be so stressful.

He is such a character, well all 3 of them are, but he has really shown how smart he can be, I can't believe how he just follows my finger across the tank and into the basket now, if he gets better it will be a neat trick to show off.

I am really worried now

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Sounds good to me Mads. Thanks for chiming in :) . The other one I've heard people use is a swab of hydrogen peroxide using a cotton ball so none goes in the mouth but I'm always a little bit scared of that stuff. I've used it on a body lesion but would never use it near the mouth. If this was going to turn into mouth rot, part of the mouth would sort of come away- that hasn't happened and I hope it wont. If it is a wound/cut or mouth fungus (raised or fluffy) the Melafix and getting food into the fish will definitely be the best plan anyway. I expect Fishmerised will comment soon.

Just seen your post Mark. Don't be stressed. Do you have a small syringe?

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Okay I just had an idea Mark. Can you dip a cotton bud in tank water and attach a flake to the end. That would be smaller than your finger if you dont have the syringe. With a sick fry I once used a bluntend toothpick. How much open space is there in the mouth?

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Hi, thanks for sticking with me.

I just had another look at his nose, and it is quite smooth, it looks a lot like they do if they knock a scale off of their side (the biggest one did this a while back) It really doesn't look much like a fluffy growth.

He does every so often open his mouth quite wide, but just for a moment, it would be more than enough to eat though, but when he is trying to grab food most of the time his lips stick out and his lower jaw hardly seems to open

When he does open up wide it almost looks like he is trying to force his mouth open, and it is either painful, or it could be he is trying to cough something out, I just don't know.

I will give a blunt toothpick a try, thats a good idea, could try and get a small syringe tomorrow too

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No problem I've been on here all day today- I have a cold and am off work.

Your fish does sound clever. The finger trick. There's a member here who has a very tame fish that comes and sits in his hand and likes to be rocked! Fish can get quite tame and use to hands especially after being not well and reliant on their human pet like this (sorry if that sounds nuts!)

Try the blunt toothpick. If you microwave a few green peas and take off the slightly harder shell cover part the inside is very mushy and a little of that stuck on the toothpick would be good. The smell is appetising to fish and all fish love peas. Promise! Well anyway whatever you can get him to eat...good luck. Fish have recovered from much worse given the right conditions (those continued water changes) and your care.

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I don't really have much more to add, our medical resources are abysmal over here and it's frustrating to say the least. When I use melafix I dose the total amount everyday, in your case 25ml per day. Do any water change before medicating but just add the same 25ml regardless - jmo.

It's interesting that your daughter saw your fish in distress spitting out the plant before he developed this eating problem. Perhaps some of this plant stalk broke off and is still inside the mouth causing an irritation/ulcer. I think you need to shine a torch in his mouth and be prepared to remove anything with blunt tweezers. It's not as hard as it sounds, I surprised myself and did it once.

If he can't eat, you can feed him with the syringe by soaking and mashing pellets into a watery paste. I don't think that this is going to fix itself in a hurry so it's important to establish a feeding routine for the fish. When I'm about to handle fish I rub a few drops of Prime onto my hands as this helps protect the slime coat of the fish. (don't forget to wash hands well afterwards)

Fish also like cooked pumpkin which can be mashed into a watery paste, add a few shelled peas for value.

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Still no luck with the food :(

he is swimming around again in the tank, but is a lot quieter now, I think he is really starting to feel the effect of no food.

Again I tried to get a look, but when I get his head up he just doesn't open his mouth, is there some way I can get him to do this without hurting him?

His jaw underneath looks a bit lopsided too.

I had some magnifying glasses to get a better look, and the light colour area almost looks like it is under the skin, and the skin looks transparent, he is making chewing type movements most of the time (although his mouth doesn't open as he does this) and his top lip goes out and in as he does it, while he is doing his the light coloured area under the skin seems to be moving in time with his lip.

I am not much good with fish anatomy so thought I would try and describe that in case it gives any clues.

I think I am going to have to get some food in him with a syringe, but he is not a very big fish and I really dont know how to get his mouth open to feed him this way (or to extract anything that may be in there)

I feel a bit helpless with him as I cant even get his mouth open

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Don't panic too much. He can probably still manage to nibble on the green algae that you said was on the tank sides. That is usually nutritious and will give him something at least.

The other thing you could try is some fryfood. You can buy liquid fry goldfish food (or tropical fry is fine) and add drops to the water in the basket or his mouth or get the Hikari first bites I have used which are pin prick dot size. Just some ideas.

The way to get a fish to open his mouth is to lift his head out of the water I am afraid its the only way :( . You see its a reflex action for the fish to open his mouth when it leaves the water. The fish opens its mouth as wide as it can in these circumstances. It absolutely must be done over the tank because th fish may wriggle and you can drop him easily. And you should never have him out of the water longer than a minute and a sick fish ,I personally feel for less.

I have done it. I've dislodged stones/food and I've checked for ulcers on various fish. Most are very calm, it must be scary and it is stressful so if you cant do it quickly you should put the fish back and try later.

What you are looking for: Any redness ?(inflammation)

Any white or pink spots either on the roof, sides or way back in the throat?

Any cottony fluffy stuff?

OR: really cannot open his mouth.

Remember your hands must be wet. Fishmeriseds tip about the Prime on your hands is a really good one. You can do it. Only takes a few secs in bright light. Dont squeeze the gills and keep the fish above the water so you can slip him gently back soon a s you have looked.

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I think the fry food is worth a try, will get some in the morning

I dont understand it, at first he did not want me to lift him but now I can put my hand gently round him and bring him mouth upwards to the surface, sometimes he wriggles but have done it a few times OK now, but once he gets there he just looks at me and won't open his mouth.

he can do it, I have watched him for hours since this happened and he will do it as he swims sometimes (as said above it looks difficult or painfullfor him) but he never

does it at any angle I can see in from.

I will try again tomorrow, hopefully he is getting some food but he does seem to be fading a bit now, his dorsal fin was a bit low as he was swimming round tonight, and he looked a bit sad, he keeps coming up to me and giving me the hungry look too :(

Unfortuately I had cleaned most of the algae from the sides just before I noticed his problem, but there is some on the plant leaves still, and it is starting to come back slightly on the glass

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Hes getting very tame. But if you are not comfortable about lifting him out then I wouldn't do it. Try watching him for a sustained period and see if he yawns (sometimes they do after a water change :yeah: )You said you saw him occasionally open his mouth wider? If this was lockjaw (TB) he would not be able to do that. Thats all the disease options covered. I think the most likely are some injury inside the mouth (inflammation) or a bacterial ulcer on the side of the inside of the mouth knocking his jaw squwif. He is lively and he has appetite-these are really really good things. With lockjaw he would be very,very sick and bottom sitting and fins down. thats why I think its more likley injury or ulcer...so no worries. These things heal given time, perfect water and good nutrition :D

Get some fry food and get him used to it. He'll need large doses of that of course. Keep us posted. I'll be on tomorrow to check how he is.

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His jaw underneath looks a bit lopsided too.

I had some magnifying glasses to get a better look, and the light colour area almost looks like it is under the skin, and the skin looks transparent, he is making chewing type movements most of the time (although his mouth doesn't open as he does this) and his top lip goes out and in as he does it, while he is doing his the light coloured area under the skin seems to be moving in time with his lip.

I am not much good with fish anatomy so thought I would try and describe that in case it gives any clues.

When you describe it like this it does remind me of a fish I had that chewed on the remains of some java fern in the tank for days. It was stuck in his throat and some of it eventually came out and I was luckily able to tweak it out. Fishmerised reminded me about the fake plant incident too and a piece may well be stuck in there still and/or caused some painful spot or inflammation.

Try and see when he next yawns.

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Latest update.

I found another aquarium shop not far from me, this one is a bit smaller than the others and is run by the owner, he seems more helpful than the staff at the other places.

I bought some liquid fry food, the shop owner was sceptical about it working, but I will try it as any amount of food in him is better than nothing.

He also made a couple of suggestions which I thought I would ask your advice on.

He said salting the whole aquarium was a good idea, as that will help to fight infection and will be beneficial to the other fishies too, he said all of his tanks have salt in,

I grabbed some aquarium salt while there, the suggested dose is 1 Gramme per Litre, what do you guys think? is it worth a try, and does the doseage seem right? or should I just give the sick one (his name is Splash by the way) a salt bath?

If it would be better to bathe him seperately I could use some guidance on how to do this please

He also said that if the melafix isn't working in the next few days to maybe try something drastic like Potassium Permanganate <sp> in the water, he said it was much more harsh and would strip his slime coat back with any parasites/fungus or bacteria, he also said it should break down any plant matter if there is some stuck back in his throat.

its sounds a bit of a drastic last resort to me, and I am wary of this, any ideas?

I am never sure about the advice given at the fish shops, as usually they only seem interested in selling stuff, but this guy seemed more genuine, so thought I would add his suggestions here to see what people think

I have a small syringe, I am going to change the water, top up the melafix and see if I can hand feed him some liquid stuff, will be back later keep your fingers crossed

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Some slight changes now.

I lifted his head up and he opened his mouth a couple of times, but he shut it very quickly, it was fairly wide though which is promising, it opened with a bit of a "pop" sound and he did it a couple of times himself and spat a bubble at the top.

He still seems unable to do this for food though.

I had a go with the fry food and syringe, not really sure whether he got any or not as I could not get the syring into his mouth. I will try this again though, I ended up squirting it slowly at his lips and he seemed very interested, although whether it went in, as his mouth was not open much, I dont know.

The white mark on his nose is changing though, it has definitely raised up a bit now, and looks whiter, it sort of looks a bit like a white-head spot or pimple, like it is under the skin but trying to get out, it may even be starting to look kind of fluffy, but it is very small so hard to describe well, I will try and get another pic later

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Hokay...some changes are very much in the wind. I know what this is now.

First of all your new fish man sounds good, he did some good advice and those are some options I'll discuss in a bit.

The new symptoms presenting- the white pimple and the grey pale mould like area that looks fungal (but is not)...these are classic symptoms of the flexibacter columnaris bacteria very very common in all aqauriums. When the bacteria build up the fish become unable to basically prevent the bacteria from latching on and causing damage. The bacteria themselves thrive on organic matter- there wa s a build up of that.

Columnaris can enter the fish through the gills, mouth, or via small wounds on the skin. The disease is highly contagious among fish and it is highly likely that the other fish will have similar symptoms in due course.... I think the bacteria entered through the mouth injury on that plant. It all fits.

Sooo what to do now.

Yes add the salt. I wrote this info here on how to salt the tank and I should begin now. After 12 hours you can salt again. The salt will help the fish but will not completely cure the disease unless you have managed to catch this in its very early stages. I suppose thats possible...

I think though you will need copper sulfate for this one. Let me post this as I know you are waiting ...I'll post again a minute...

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PP is also a very effective cure for columnaris. If you can get that easier use that. Here is a link on how to do that with all the instructions of how much and how to combine it with salt :) .Using Potassium Permanganate

There are 2 very important things to remember here. One is that PP seriously depletes oxygen which you need double of for sick fish. and the other is that PP damages your cycle so you will need to bypass the filter. This can be done easily as PP only takes 3 days. You can "store" your precious filter media in a dark bucket of tank water with an airstone. This will keep most of the bacteria alive for the duration of the treatment. Or you can bypass your filter as I have done sometimes - I can talk you through that it is easy.

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Thanks Trinket, I will get started with the salt tonight, but I have a couple of quick questions o make sure I am going the right way

should I stop the melafix now too? Or should I redose with melafix tomorrow again?

Should I keep doing the daily changes 20%?

Should I stop feeding them all now while I do this?

Trying to work out the dosage here, I will try this in litres as everythig I have is metric here, my tank is 200 litres, (50 US gals) but there is probably about 15-20 litres of gravel and ornaments, so I figure it may be 45 US gallons of water in there, how exact do we have to be?

I make it that the doses should be 45 teaspoons each time? is that right?

I don't want to over or under do the dosage if there is any danger.

Thanks for your help, I hope we can cure this, I would like to know more about the copper sulfate if it is any safer the the PP?

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Thanks Trinket, I will get started with the salt tonight, but I have a couple of quick questions o make sure I am going the right way

should I stop the melafix now too? Or should I redose with melafix tomorrow again?

Now we know what this is for sure, you can stop the melafix. It is rather a cosmetic medication and not specific. It wont hurt but there is no need for it now. Keep the bottle somewhere cool and tightly sealed you can use it again in the future, it is very useful to have at hand.

Should I keep doing the daily changes 20%?

You wont be doing water changes for the 3 days with the PP so do a large change before you start the meds and salting. A 60% I suggest- it sounds alot but don't worry it will be fine .

Should I stop feeding them all now while I do this?

You can still feed but not heavily. Again look at some vitamin C type foods- especially PEAS they are magic. Orange is acidic for your fishes mouth injury I think, peas are best for all plus one light feed of their regular.

Trying to work out the dosage here, I will try this in litres as everythig I have is metric here, my tank is 200 litres, (50 US gals) but there is probably about 15-20 litres of gravel and ornaments, so I figure it may be 45 US gallons of water in there, how exact do we have to be?

For salt not too exact. Fish will survive 0.5% and larger fish up to 0.8%. But I should go with 45 for the water volume and do first 45 level teaspoons after your large w/c and leave that for another 12 hours by which time you should have the other meds and can do the next lot of salt and the meds together. Your fish are small so I'd stick to under rather than over. Goodness you have a lot of gravel. But dont strat taking anything out right now. Make sure instead you get that gravel stirred up to pop and clear the build up of toxic gas that always collects in under there at every w/c

I make it that the doses should be 45 teaspoons each time? is that right?

Yes that's right

I don't want to over or under do the dosage if there is any danger.

You are a good kind fishowner :)

Thanks for your help, I hope we can cure this, I would like to know more about the copper sulfate if it is any safer the the PP?

My pleasure. Copper sulfate? That all depends on if you have soft water. It is not recommended for soft water.

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Oops had already added the salt before I saw your reccomendation of another water change, will it be OK? can I do one with the salt and strengthen it up tomorrow?

I tested the water before the change

PH 7.6 -7.8 bit between colour

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 5.0+ very little bit darker, but nowhere near next measure (I was doing this wrong before, ot shaking and waiting enough)

I changed 20% six hours ago and had a good vac clean.

The gravel amount was a bit of a guess, judging by how far it sits up the bottom of the tank, probably fairly accurate though, that was the amount reccomended to me at the shop where I bought my tank, having seen the amount of muck that was stuck in there I am not sure it is a great idea either, mind you it helps to hold the plants in place, there are 4 real and 3 artificial plants, as well as 3 oraments so I took an educated guess at their volume.

I have hard water here in Adelaide, so any info on the copper sulfate will be helpful, although I may not be able to get it here?

I will go to the new found store tomorrow, and get more salt, and either the copper sulfate or PP

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Yes you can do a change again tomorrow and replace what you took out. Again, very important to keep a salt log with the date and how much went in and came out. It is very easy to get lost with it all.

I suggest you get a bulk buy of pickling or sea salt. I like sea salt because its esp. rich in carbonates. Remember to check on the back.

Alarm bells should ring if you see any of these: YPS. anticaking agents. or iodine. It is just that salt is always handy for a fish owner and the aquarium stuff is pricey and usually small in volume so you have to go back and get more...

Your water test results look good. make sure you keep those 2 at zero during any kind of treatment. The niytrates do seem low but you have plants in there and if you still have algae I suppose its posssible. Anyway its very good. Low is very good but zero is worrying as it indicates you might be back at square one re-your-cycling. Plants consume or use nitrates..its a great fertilizer in fact.

One more thing. There is a chance that this may heal up and not spread with the 0.3% salt alone. Yes it can happen. If your fish had a strong immunity to begin with there is a chance we have caught it in time. You do have a choice here. You can wait a few days with the salt or you can rush ahead with the PP or CS and get it finished perhaps faster but more aggressively. Basically more treatments go hand in hand the harder it is on the fish. Personally I do feel like you have caught this quite early but I also feel if hes not eating that is a worry. This one is your call.

Copper Sulfate is atricky one. It needs daily monitoring as it will kill fish if it spirals. It is absorbed you see for the first few days by the gravel ..and copper readings will be low an dthen when they can absorb no more it is released into the watre and so if you are not monitoring it daily the level of copper can reach too high. This is esp true with soft water. I have not used it myself.

The other one is Terramycin (antibiotic) this would be gentler but I dont think you can get it down under and the last one is acraflavine which you could do as a daily dip in a separate bucket (you can also do PP like that...all these choices!) jsu the sick fish.

Acraflavine is a chemical dye. Kills bacteria usually. Its best to get the pre prepared pack from your fish store. Some say it is not very effective. I have used it and found it quite good. PP is however very good.

Have a think. Its a lot of info to absorb...sorry I get carried away with detail sometimes!

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I think I will go with the PP, it seems the easiest and it will be easiest for me to get from the helpful fish shop, plus if I dose the whole tank I will be treating the other 2 as well, and if it is infectious that must be a good thing, I dont want to wait too long as the lack of food is worrying, he does look a bit thin now.

will either do this tomorrow night with the last salt dose, or maybe next morning so as not to change too much at once, which do you thik is best

They are all very lively tonight, I had their lights on for longer than usual because I was adding the salt, and they seem quite lively now, is that normal for them to get very active when salt goes in? they are quite funny to watch as they follow me all round the tank.

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Well its always good that fish are lively! And its a good start with the treatment coming up. But the slat wont be doing that. Ask your fish man what the lowest dose you can possibly give is and go with that. Remember 2 of the fish are not sick yet and do not really need the treatment until they are although it is contagious it hasnt affected them yet so this is really not a bad case of columnaris. I suggest 0.02% is enough.

Take care to wear gloves and dont spill any on yourself or anywhere. I have stains all over our carpet from various meds I have spilled.

I think your right its the gentlest and best choice you have here. You will need to remove the plants and put them in a bucket. Do you have an extra airstone? I cant emphasise enough how important extra air is with PP or any meds. It makes a huge difference to minimalising stress levels having extra.

It doesnt matter when you start Mark. Just make sure the salt is on track. Perhaps after the second dose when you get it up to 0.2% with a large w/c before that? Then PP and then 12 hours later the final salt.

Do you need help with the filter bypassing? I will be on again tomorrow..its getting late here. We are on the same time as you in Australia I believe....11pm here. If you stop the filter you could use the old waterfall filter you said you had to make a splash (oxygen enters at the surface) but no carbon. Sponge media would be okay.

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Ah OK I did wonder about the plants, I will remove them when I ater change tomorrow then, that way I can vac the gravel as they come out of it, as there will probably be more muck round the roots.

as my filter is an above tank type I can remove the carbon cartridges and the ceramic noodles from the baskets, and just put some sponge and wool/floss pads in I guess.

I am ot sue if disturbing the ceramics will cause problems though, I will post a pic of the filter setup in the morning and see what you think.

I will pick up another cheapy air pump too just for safety sake, and I have a few small airstones and some T pieces so I can spread those round the tank.

I was thinking of setting up the small tank as an emergency tank too, just in case anything goes wrong or they react badly I can move them quickly,

my thoughts were to fill it with some of the water from the next change and start the waterfall filter running with a new cartridge (I still have some spare)

Shoul I do this or use fresh water, and what should I do about cleaning the tank first, it hasn't been used for a fair while and will have been gathering dust, does it need to be sterilised at all?

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