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Dealing With Swimbladder


Guest Mark Hale

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Guest Mark Hale

I am a fairly experienced GF keeper and a good fish keeper in general. My water parameters are all good with nitrates always less than 20. I won't go into all the parameters but just say that its all good in an established, well filtered tank.

One of my teles has always had what I now know as swim bladder issues. He swims funny... almost like he's too fat (best description I can think of) and "wobbles" along mostly upright. Occasionally he will swim on the side and I have seen him flip over a few times... only for a short period of time. Lastly, he has a kind of curvey spine when you look at him from the top down. He has at times liked the bottom of the tank to a point of concern staying on the bottom (he may have been sick with something else).... but mostly now pins himself up against the filter tube at the top (there is no suction there). Its almost as if he just gets sick of swimming and pinning himself in there is just easy. When you look down at him you can see his cute eyes moving around and often times he'll "back out" of his "parking space". He'll swim pretty normally, get food.... and eventually wind up pinning himself in this same spot. If it wasn't for the fact that he has always been a "special needs fish" I'd think he was dead everyday.

I know there is lots of information out there and I have tried to assimilate it many times... but talking to those who have dealt with it is much more valuable. I don't mind Lester being sick.... I feel bad for him and that makes me sad a bit... but in the end I'd like to give him the best life available.

Should I expect a significanty decreased life span or should I just get used to having this funny "special needs" fish who winds up looking dead more often than not? Anything that I could or should do? I am okay with whatever the answer is here.... I just like Lester and want to do my best for as long as I can.

I'll add that he is in a 36g bowfront with another tele. Both fish are less than 2 years old I'd guess.... though I suppose lester could be 3 or 4. I do 50% water changes once a week (sometimes I'll slip to ten days but not often). Water PH is around 8 and there is no ammo, ates, or ites (LOL). THey get a diet of dried pellet (soaked for quite a while), flake, and peas on occastion. They don't seem to take to many other fruits and veggies and I admittedly don't offer it the way I should. I have used the medigold on occasion when I thought he was sick at first.

Thoughts?

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My fish likes to slip in between the tank and the filter and just stay there for a while. He's got his quirks, maybe that's all your fish has? As far as him being "wobbly", SBD happens to everyones' fish at least once. Try feeding him more peas. He could be constipated too. Have you noticed any poop? Peas help with that, too. But you probably know all this. Sometimes when my fish is constipated he bottom-sits until his system is cleared then he's perky again.

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Have you considered dumping the flakes alltogether? If it was my fish, that is what I would do. Those are a major culprit when it comes to floating issues.

Does the tele have the problem ever since you got him, or did it start while in your care? Does he do it only after feeding, or pretty much all day long? Did you just recently stumble upon that slightly curved spine, or might he have had that all along without you noticing it before? Are there any live plants in the tank - potted or otherwise? If not, I would give him some inexpensive ones he can nibble away if he likes to. Something like anacharis or duckweed.

How often do you feed them? I wonder if you should try giving them more frequent, yet smaller meals. If a fish has issues with its boyancy, huge meals often will mess it up even more. Too much food in the intestines at any given time can press on other organs like the swim bladder.

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