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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 20635
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My goldfish got stuck in an ornament about 6 weeks ago. He

Customer Question

My goldfish got stuck in an ornament about 6 weeks ago. He was ok when we got him out - a few scales missing and a slight crimp in his tail but he has deteriorated and is now bent over - his tail is useless and sits almost touching one side of his body. He still feeds - it takes him a long time to manoeuvre but he does ok - but spends the rest of the time motionless at the bottom of his tank. I can't find anyone to tell me whether or not I should put him down. I am concerned he is in distress or pain but the fact that he feeds seems to suggest otherwise. Please advise?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Poor Boodles,

His deterioration despite being initially mobile post trauma is quite worrying. Just to give me a full picture of his situation (since there are other potential causes for these signs that would make the trauma a red herring):

Can you tell me if you have checked your water's nitrate levels (since this can also cause the "bends" and bottom sitting)?

Can he straighten at times or is he always bent?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello


 


No I haven't checked the levels but keep his tank very clean. I do a 50% change once a week and a 25% change midweek if its looking bad. But I could get a testing kit from somewhere. He is permanently bent and can't straighten.


 


One of his two filters has just broken but usually there are two on the go as one wasn't quite enough.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Mirella,

If the other filter broke between the time of his injury and now, then it may be worth a quick check of the nitrates to see if this is our culprit. If this is high despite a good partial changing water regimen, then you may consider addressing this to see if Boodles signs improve. Otherwise, significant damage and TB would be other causes for the signs you are seeing with Boodles. And in those cases, prognosis for recovery is poor.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX ethical question of whether euthanasia is indicated, I have to say that if Boodles is not doing the things that are part of normal fish life, then this would be a indicator that euthanasia would need to be considered. While he is eating, being so incapacitated as a prey species (since goldfish are certainly not on the top of the food chain) would be terrifying and very stressful for him. So, even if he is eating, this is not enough. It would not be fair for him to remain in this state for the rest of his life. And in that situation, if the nitrates are not an issue then euthanasia would be best for him. In case you have not euthanized a fish before, I do want to include a link regarding the use of clove oil to do so (LINK).

So, do check the nitrates and hopefully we will find this at the root of his signs. But if the tests show that the nitrates are not >20, then this will be less likely and we'd need to consider letting him go to prevent him from suffering longer then is necessary.

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks I will check for nitrates and really appreciate your honesty on the subject of euthanasia - its what my instinct tells me but its hard to find anyone who thinks a fish requires the same consideration as any other animal.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
You are very welcome.

Fingers-crossed, the nitrates will be acting up.

Otherwise, I know what you mean about fish getting the short end of the stick on ethical considerations. It is the same problem when you read research papers (as zebra fish are a common model for disease in a range of human studies). Fish have been shown to respond to pain in pain-based studies but since they are not terrestrial and often don't show dramatic signs (ie vocalizing, etc) that it gets overlooked.

Therefore, for Boodle, I would say that we need to approach his situation as we would with any pet species. If we found a cat or dog that was collapsed as he is and had a condition we were not going to be able to cure to get him back to normal, then we'd have to consider ending their suffering with euthanasia.

Anyway, I do hope the nitrates are our trouble makers. Still, if they are normal and thus ruled out, then euthanasia would be the kindest option for your lad.

Take care,
Dr. B.