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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22449
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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, I have a koy approx 7 y old and have just found it

Customer Question

Hello, I have a koy approx 7 y old and have just found it on the edge of the pond, upside down. When picked up it is still breathing and there are no visible signs of infection anywhere. Put it back in the pond and it tries to swim but the fins are not moving in a co-ordinated way and it is still upside down.
Other koy and fish in the pond look all ok. What do you suggest, please?
Mrs Gracey
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Now I would say that first and foremost, we would always want to check water parameters (pH, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia) in our ponds when we have odd presentations like this in our fish. This ensures no nitrogenous waste issues are playing a role in precipitating signs.

That said, based on his abnormal body position in the water column and his swimming when returned to the pond, swim bladder issues would be our primary suspicion here. This is a condition that we can see for a variety of reasons. Common causes include constipation, imbalance issues, trauma, infection, compression from abscesses, growths, or tumors in the body, and idiopathic swim bladder disease.

In regards ***** ***** for this fish, relocation to a hospitalization tank for close monitoring and supportive care would be best. In regards ***** ***** we often start by ruling out the overly common constipation trigger for swim bladder disease. To do so, you can feed this fish fibrous vegetables (ie peas, spinach, cucumber, etc). Alternatively, you can feed Daphnea from your local aquarium shop as 'laxative/clearing' agents. The reason we use these is because we are attempting to clear them out, in the hopes that increased material in the gut had been the cause for swim bladder compression.

As well, if we are trying to rule out a distended GI as a reason for compression, do pay mind to the water temperature, as colder water (below 55 degrees F/14 degrees C) can impede active gut movement. So, if the pond temperatures are a bit low, you can slowly raise the temperatures in his hospitalization tank to ensure this isn't playing a role.

Finally, we can also support this fish with a low dose of aquarium salt. To do so, we tend to start with a a dose of 1 tbsp per gallon of tank water. This should be added pre-dissolved to the hospitalization tank into an area of high water flow area of the tank. This will help support the fish, and if there is a lapse in its osmotic balance then the salt will help with that as well.

If you try the above treatments and don't see improvement over 24-48 hours, then you do need to consider other causes of swim bladder disease could be influencing what you are seeing. And in those cases, we do usually need the assistance of a fish vet. That is because an xray of her swim bladder (to rule out infiltration with tumor or infection both in the swim bladder and around it) could really shed light on the root of the problem. Alternatively, some vets will be equipped to sample the contents of the swim bladder. This can then be cultured for infectious causes and examined under the microscope to uncover the nature of the material extracted. Depending on the findings, an appropriate course of treatment can be initiated and an overall prognosis appreciated.

Overall, his signs fit with swim bladder disease which is a side effect of the aforementioned internal issues. Therefore, we'd want to consider relocating this fish at this stage and using the above approach to see if we can relieve his signs and get him back to an upright position for you.

I hope this information is helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.

All the best,

Dr. B.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank you for reverting.

A couple of questions - how can I feed the fish cucumber or peas?

And is the salt you are referring to is a specialist water for the ponds or can normal kitchen salt be used?

Finally what is GI that you refer to in your response?

Please kindly revert.

Mrs Gracey

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Hi again,

First, GI refers to the gastrointestinal system or gut. So, as I am sure you can appreciation constipation would arise in the gut. Otherwise, in regards ***** ***** those veggies, you just need to hand feed them. Most will take them without issue. Finally, the aquarium salt is specific for use in tanks/ponds but you can use table salt as long as it is non-iodized. Though as ponds are usually quite large, a tank for this fish may be best so that you don't have to treat the whole pond.

All the best,
Dr. B.