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Soft-Bellied Starbuck


uberleslie

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Hi everyone!

I haven't been around in awhile -- busy with new job, family chaos...you know, the usual. And, geez, I leave for 5 minutes (*cough*months*cough*) and the whole place looks shiny and new. :D

I'm hoping some of you might remember my beloved and "special" girl, Starbuck. Bought her as a sick fish, hoping to get her in tip-top shape, but she's always had sinky/floaty issues.

Here's the latest...

Ammonia Level? - 0

Nitrite Level? - 0

Nitrate level? - 10ppm (just did water change this morning)

Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)? - 8 (Keeping KH/GH stable at about 6 drops - can't remember what that means...around 100, I think.)

Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)? - 9 KH/GH in tap are about 0.

Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? - API Master, drops

Water temperature? - 76

Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? - 29 gallon, about a year? Memory failing...

What is the name and size of the filter(s)? - Emperor 400

How often do you change the water and how much? - Weekly (over the summer a couple of times every-other-week). Change about 80-90%

How many fish in the tank and their size? - 3; 1 ryukin - 2ish inches; 1 oranda - 2.5ish inches; and Starbuck about 2in

What kind of water additives or conditioners? - Prime, Buff-it-Up; Crushed coral in filter

What do you feed your fish and how often? - Hikari Lionhead, Pro-Gold, peas; small feedings 2x day

Any new fish added to the tank? - Nope

Any medications added to the tank? - month ago started salting to 0.1%, just removed with this morning's w/c

Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? - Her tail fin is always a bit more pink than it probably should be. She's typically missing a few scales. I've noticed in recent weeks her tummy appears to be a bit uneven (this is new, despite the fact she's always had issues with eggs, swimbladder or whatnot). And today during the water change, she was laying on her back and I touched her belly -- it was very soft and smushy.

Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? - She is always on the bottom except for feeding time. Sometimes on her side, sometimes upside-down, but almost always on the bottom. At feeding she perks up, swims like a bullet, and slowly falls.

So yeah, her belly is soft and added to her persistent swimming issues I don't know what that means. I have a 10 gallon tank I could QT her in, but it's uncycled so there would be that added stress on her.

If I look back in the grand scheme of things, her floaty/sinky issues are now fully sinky. She doesn't really float anymore. She still has a strong appetite and will eat anything I give her. She's getting good food even with fully-healthy tank mates. Fisher (my big common) is in his own tank, so he can't beat her up anymore.

I'm sorta at my wits end with her.

Any ideas?

Edited by uberleslie
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Hi Uberleslie, and I'll just quickly offer a cyberhug with that as we haven't seen you around here in a LONG time :D!!

I'm sorry your special and beautiful Starbuck is having problems again. I know she has had a lot of sitting issues and at one point it seemed resolved and was put down to the enormous spraying of eggs. Has she recently sprayed more? As it is quite normal for the belly to be very soft after spraying.

True swimbladder problems often start with the floatiness at the top and then suddenly these fish become sinkers :( It does make them more prone to infection being stagnant too so things get complex..

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Hiya! Hope all is well with you!

She hasn't dropped eggs at all this year. Last year she did three times, I think. But since she's been in with the two fancies, nothing. Earlier this spring I thought she was eggbound, but she either absorbed them or wasn't eggbound to begin with.

So the bottom-sitting is probably a permanent state now?

Is there anything I can do with QT or meds?

What would the soft belly indicate? Is her swim bladder swollen or deflated?

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Well it can go either way. To the best of my knowledge there are basically 3 parts of the airsacs that can malfunction. The gas gland that is responsible for releasing gases like carbon dioxide, the 'rete mirabile' which is the tiny pumping device allowing gases to always be in perfect balance and the pneumatic duct which is the tube connecting the swimbladder airsacs to the air passages involved in fish ''breathing'' through their gills and mouth. It depends which is infected or malfuntioning whether the airsacs just simply deflate or stay so inflated that farther gases cannot get through well and poisonous ones build up.

It sounds like in Starbuck's case the airsacs are not inflating well and are deflated.

I was hoping to hear she had dropped eggs. There's another possibility now. That some eggs didnt come out and have become infected in there. Egg impaction is not so common but it can happen. Virus or bacteria inside there can also infect the airsacs. But having said that I would not jump to that conclusion unless she was off her food and showing a general lack of lustre which she does not appear to...

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Yeah, she's still definitely got an appetite and I always watch to make sure she gets at least a couple bits of food. Sometimes she gets one bit and sorta gives up. I've noticed in the past couple days she's not really swimming around like she used to at food time, though she's perking up and scooting about the bottom a bit. In general, I'd say personality-wise, she's perky, but physically she looks rough.

Since she's been doing the bottom-sitting more persistently, her tail looks irritated and spotty.

Is there any kind of med that might possibly help? I'll set up a QT tank in a heartbeat if I thought it would help.

Here are some pictures, in case that helps...

In this first picture -- the piece of her belly that is centered, is the piece that looks bloated and feels soft.

starbuck1-2.jpg

starbuck2-2.jpg

starbuck3-2.jpg

starbuck4-1.jpg

Edited by uberleslie
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Poor baby. Her scales are losing shine and her tail is spotted like that from touching the bottom. Tails were not designed to touch the tank bottom/sides and those white spots often happen with grounded fish. Have Starbuck's eyes always been very slightly raised/telescoped like that or is that a new symptom? I can't tell from her old pic in your sig.

Has she ever had a course of Metromeds? That would be what I would probably try her with right now. Since she is eating vigorously.

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Its 14 days. You have to order from Goldfish Connection. Which takes a few days. I think its worth it.

I know you tried Jungle once. The ingredients are different. MMs has Metronidazole in which is so good for her insides if the pipes and vessels in there are swollen or inflamed. It also contains a farther cocktail of antibiotics that may help.

It is important the area she is lieing on/tank bottom is wiped regularly so her weakened tail doesnt pick up an infection.

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I haven't even really had time to read through this thread yet. I just saw the words "Soft bellied Starbuck" and my heart started racing.

I see Trinket is helping you, and I totally agree that I would try the MetroMeds. I really hope that Starbuck is okay. I LOVE that fish. Always been one of my favorites..

Good to see u Leslie, even though I wish it was under better circumstances.

GET WELL STARBUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Aww. You ladies are seriously the best. I've missed this place. :heart

Starbuck has always been my special girl too. And I know she's never going to be a perfectly healthy fish who swims beautifully. I just don't want her to be uncomfortable or in pain.

I think I'm going to keep her in the 29 gallon this week and set up my 10 gallon QT with some media from both of my tanks. Hopefully I can get a jump start on a cycle before putting her in it. I've ordered Metro-Meds.

Will salt help at all with this?

(Speaking of salt, can it affect a fish's coloring? I've noticed that for the month I've been salting to .1%, Kenobi is losing some orange.)

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Personally I wouldn't use salt even at that low dose for more than a month. I don't think it affects color though...at that dose.

You don't need to set up a separate tank for food meds..unless she has tankmates who might eat her MMs :)

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Thanks Chrissy. Yeah, I'll probably have to QT her. Her tank mates are piggies and they'll totally eat her med food. I could get a divider, but she might just need a break too...some alone time. Not they ever pick on her.

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Hi again, yeesh, another busy week.

I got the Metro-Meds in the mail Wednesday and set up the QT tank on Friday. She looked about the same all week long in her big tank. I wanted to give the QT some days to get a cycle going (transferred media and rocks, etc. from other tanks). On Sunday afternoon she looked BAD. Her tail was angry red and she didn't even respond to dinner at all. Very unusual for her.

So I immediately transferred her to QT...got temp matched and everything over an hour and then she was in. I hand-fed her the Metro-Meds (4 pieces). This morning she didn't respond to food again -- just a bit excited at the lights going on, etc. -- so I hand-fed again (4 pieces). Tonight I just hand-fed right away (4 pieces) and dropped an extra piece in there. Came back a few minutes later and it was gone. So that was good.

How many pieces should I be giving? (The MMs are bigger like Pro-Gold, but I'm just not sure with the meds.)

Water params in QT are good (just tested 24 hours after she's been in):

ammonia - 0

nitrate - 5+ppm (not quite 10)

nitrite - 0

ph - 8

kh - 89.5ish (5 drops)

gh - 107ish (6 drops)

(using Buff-it-Up and Prime)

Anything else I can be doing?

I'm hoping the MMs perk her up. Otherwise I'm not sure she can fight through this time.

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Just a quick update: When I fed her this morning, she was a bit more zippy. I tried to hand feed her at first, but she was too bouncy and zoomy, so I just strategically dropped pieces in front of her and she gobbled them up.

Fins crossed...

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This sounds like very good news and I think you are feeding a good amount! It really depends on the size. I usually do about 6-8 pellets twice a day but actually if you can break it into 3 smaller feedings of 4 pellets each the way you are doing thats even better!!

I hope she gets completely well soon!!

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So, tomorrow will be day 12 of the Metro-Meds. I'm not seeing too much of an improvement in her behavior. Her tail redness is reduced. Her scales still look rough. She lays on her side all of the time. I'm thinking the scales are rough-looking just cause she's always on them, which I'm sure has harmed her slime coat.

When I come near to visit or give food, she perks up and scoots and darts around. She's able to eat on her own, she sorts scoots into the food and sucks it up sideways.

What's next? Can I extend the use of Metro-Meds (if so, how long)? Should I salt her in QT? Or should I just get her back in the main tank with Sephie and Kenobi?

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Sorry to have only now gotten to this thread. I have a fish that is in the condition that Starbuck is in. She's been that way for over a year now.

Aside from the bottom sitting on her side, she still swims and eats just fine. She's been a constant concern for me being that I've tried everything. I QTed her in a 12gal tank on her own. I've tried salting and metro meds. With her first treatment with metro meds, she got a little bit better, but still never returned to swimming upright.

The white spots on the tails and the "rough" look to the scales is normal for laying on her side.

Just to prepare you Uberleslie, my fish Quasimodo, has never returned to swimming upright. She's a little bit thinner than when she use to swim normally, but she still eats and swims and shows that aside from losing swim bladder function, she's still capable of getting around.

I do worry that with laying on her side so much she will get sick, but so far, aside from some spots on her fins, there's been no illness with her.

Occasionally she does switch sides though, so I think that helps her prevent any serious sores on one side.

----------------------

So now as the responsible fish keeper... I've questioned myself a couple of times as to whether or not it's more humane to just euthanize her.

And for the most part here are my thoughts:

1. She's still swimming and eating... so it seems she has the desire to live.

2. I can't get my hands on any clove oil without ordering online... so I take this as another sign.

3. So far, she's gone over a year in this condition and nothing "bad" has happened to her, so my choice was to just continue this way.

She is back in my 72 gal tank with the other fish, and I was worried at first that others would pick on her, but it seems they leave her alone. She's still got both eyeballs (whew!) and is getting around.

I am not sure if Starbuck is in the same situation, but it really does look to be what's going on with Quasi.

Not sure if this was really any help, but just to let you know... this doesn't mean that Starbuck won't survive it. :heart

I'll see if I can't get a picture of Quasi to show you... it's been one of the few things that kept me from posting on here as opposed to lurking.

Seemed like if I couldn't fix my own fish... who am I to be helping others? :(

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Thanks, Tinko. I've sorta struggled with the same thoughts about euthanizing. She really does seem like Quasi. I'm sorta okay with her not being able to swim, I just think the secondary issues of bottom-sitting will eventually get her. I feel like she's sorta back to perking up when I'm nearby, versus just before I put her in QT when she was starting to ignore food and me.

Back in the main tank the other fish really do leave her alone, so I think she'll be okay getting food, etc. I actually noticed that Kenobi has a bit of a cut in one of his fins, so I might salt the tank (with Starbuck in it) for a week...I don't want to salt her in QT because I think the little cycle I have in there will crash.

I just want her not to be in pain. If she's content and can get food, I'm okay. If she struggles and loses interest again, I suppose I'll have to decide about euthanizing or QT/Metro-Meds.

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