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Jed The Fish On Bottom of Tank, tried everything - Suggestions?

I have 5 Blood Parrots and 2 Plecostomus in a 40 gallon tank.  No issues until about a month ago when Jed The Fish, a medium-sized Blood Parrot, started struggling to stay upright while swimming, then started spending more time on the bottom of the tank on his side.  No external spots or other signs.  Possible bloating, hard to tell but not extreme in any case.

I increased the temperature to about 88/90, added salt, did frequent water changes, & fed shelled peas.  No change.

Went to Petco, they recommended Microbe Lift Herbal Actives Artemiss.  [For all medications I removed the carbon filter, added extra foam for filtration, and used the Bath method.]  Followed the directions for 2-3 days, no improvement.  Went to another store, they recommended Hikari Metro +.  Tried that for 2-3 days, no improvement.  Contacted Hikari, they recommended PraziPro.  Moved Jed to a 10-gallon hospital tank.  It’s Day 3 and no improvement.  Just did a 50% water change and re-dosed the tank.

I did not feed him last night as he doesn’t seem to be eating (or able to eat) what I give him.  Thought I’d not feed for 48-72 hours to build an appetite, then try the shelled peas again.

Any suggestions?

Image icon Jed The Fish unwell88.98 KB


A funny thing about the swim bladder (What makes fish swim upright): How the digestion system of a fish affects it. Especially where parasites may be involved.

Basically, the pressure on the bladder effects it, causing loss of the equilibrium that makes fish swim "upright". Stomach blaoting, brought on by cronic constipation, can certainly do this. As to what brought on the constipation, there are many possibilties... most common being Hexamita: a parasite that enters & lives in the digestion system of a fish. Typical signs of Hexamita include stringy, white feces... plus general inactivity and even disassociative behavior, like Jed has been showing. If not treated, and immediately, death will result.

The cure is to introduce a laxative... typically an Epsom salt & tank water solution, via a pipette into the mouth. If signs of Hexamita have been noted, then a careful measure of the required medicine--available at most reputable live fish retailers and pet shops--must be added to the solution. How to mix the solution can be seen on YouTube, along with the administration of it. My only advice at this point is be careful while administering it... Make sure the tip of the pipette is inserted--carefully--to the point where it's past the gills, so the solution properly enters the stomach and doesn't contaminate the gills. Gill contamination by solids will result in irreversible choking and finally: death. Also, make sure no air is introduced to the stomach via the pipette, by carefully filling & "burping" it before insertion. And finally, squeeze the pipette's bulb gently, so as to not introduce the solution too-forcefully and cause more problems. Make fresh solution daily, and toss any remaining solution into the main tank, so as to treat any others that might have contracted the same but have yet to show signs.

I hope Jed makes a full and immediate recovery, because I know how painful losing a beloved fish can be... especially a friends. I still kick myself over the loss or her Red Koi Angelfish, and learned a hard lesson about how critical care administration of a treatment is. Nothing worse that seeing a beautiful fish start showing signs of recovery, only to what it die shortly after because of one's carelessness in administering treatment.

Hi,  thanks for the detailed explanation and for your recommendations.  Others have recommended giving him an Epsom salt bath 2x a day, 15-30 minutes at a time, which I started yesterday (1/20/18).  [Water for the baths is from the hospital tank, same temperature etc., and I'm using a 50-watt heater in a 1-gallon bucket to keep it warm while he's in there.]  No signs of improvement yet but I will keep trying.  I also made a batch of Metro+-infused flakes that I am going to try feeding him tonight, probably just one to start with to see if he will eat at all.

I think the pipette method you described sounds like too delicate a procedure for me to have confidence in doing correctly.  I do appreciate the input though and all of the information.  Will post again on how it's going.