Fabio, my crowntail male, is in need of help again. Since I bought him a little less than a year ago, he has had a lot of trouble but was saved by this community. He has been healthy since September, but a condition of his is starting to worry me.
One Fabio's gills sticks out more than the other whether he flares or breaths. After work today, I fed him and noticed that he is breathing decently heavy and that his black gills are pumping quite a bit over his gill flaps. On the right gill, the one that sticks out more than the other, I noticed his scales are slightly different than on the other side. They seems almost like he is missing one or two from the top of the gill cover and they are defined more than the other side, almost as if they are sticking out (they are not and this does not appear to be dropsy). When his gill pumps out from his heavy breathing and retreats back under the flap, it is almost as if I can see into the under-the-flap area and it appears to be red. I cannot do this with the other side of him, at the moment.
I am afraid of misdiagnosing him and do not want to kill him with medication of preventative. Is this a sign of something to come or something he has? What could be the possibilities of cause, if not a disease?
Fabio is sitting in a plastic fishbowl of an unspecified number of gallons. When I filled up the tank, I noticed it could be anywhere from 2.5-5 gallons but doubt it actually contains 5. He is kept in a warm temperature despite not having a heater, as we have no air conditioner in this summer heat and even on colder days he has a desk lamp that keeps him at a comfortable 75-80 degrees. Fabio gets changed about every week, although I do hope to transfer him into a 5 gallon tank with a filter soon.
Other details: I do not test for ammonia, nitrate, or any of that other fancy fish care stuff. He lives on his own and the last time his water conditions were altered, it almost killed him. I was told by OldFishLady to not play with his Ph or anything because of the conditions he has lived in (College-Land water is toxic for fish, without Prime conditioner, and its Ph/chemicals are strange to begin with) because that is what he is used to. His conditions have been kept constant and only now has he worried me enough to return here and ask for help.
I am going to change his water in the morning (6/20) before work to see if this helps. If I can get it, I'll try to take a photo of Fabio's trouble gill. It is very hard to get him to turn to me and sit still long enough to take a photo and even harder to capture the details on camera. I will try.
In larger fish, it's normal to be able to see under the gill flap - fisherman actually hook their fingers under the gill to pull their catch in. The gill underneath the flap is always red - if it is gray or another color, then you can worry. If Fabio is still eating, still active, and not sitting at the top gasping for air, then I think his gill is functioning fine, albeit a little strangely. It's possible Fabio has lingering scar tissue from an ammonia burn he sustained before you got him or even more recently. This would cause his gill to protrude a little. If you can, the next time you see the red of his gill underneath, use a flashlight to see if he has any parasites in there. Those can also cause a gill to protrude more.
It's fine to not test your water for PH etc. but in his smaller bowl, you want to change the water at least twice a week to keep the ammonia down. You may not need to test for PH, nitrite, nitrate, alkalinity and all that fancy stuff, but I would recommend you at least get an ammonia test kit. This will help you know if you are changing his water often enough.
I have noticed that since I saved him from dying several times a day, everyday, when I first got him and learned about Prime, he began to perk up like a normal betta, but he always had one funny gill. I assumed it was because of the toxic water he had endured (PetSmart said he was SUPPOSED to be at the bottom of his tank gasping for air, because that is just what fish do) and thought nothing of it. Today, however, it seems that even when functioning normally and not flaring, his gill is sticking out more than usual.
What kind of redness should I be worried about? Are there any signs of a serious, possibly immediately threatening, problem that I should be on the look out for? I do work and no longer have the flexibility yo run to the store for medicine or change his water the moment I see something wrong. I do not want to miss anything.
And I do have a test kit somewhere. I haven't used it since I purchased him.
Red is okay. Gray, white, or black tissue under the gill flap is bad bad bad. Red means healthy. Gray and white can mean he has a fungus, ammonia burns, parasites, bacteria . . . Black probably means he's on his last little fins and won't be with us much longer. Since you plan on being observant I don't think you should ever see black gill tissue, you'll catch it way before that stage.
If he ever becomes lethargic, stops eating, or hangs out at the top looking like he is gasping for air, then he could be in trouble. If his gill is somehow impaired in its function then he will be relying more on his labyrinth organ to breathe so it's important that he always has access to the surface and that the air above his tank is kept warm and humid. But he's acting like he always does, he should do fine.
Did your Petsmart seriously say that the fish should be on the bottom like that???? Why these places are allowed to keep animals . . . ai yi yi.
Okay, that's good. I had my goldfish die a while back (my college was giving them out as prizes and I had to rescue it) and I was only able to properly diagnose him after his death, which was unfortunately caused by the poor water conditions provided by the school's water system that I could not fix no matter what I tried. He had either tuberculosis or bacterial gill infection, but was always kept separate from Fabio. He died like many of the other goldfish prizes did, which I know because I had a neighbor who was given one by people who won one and did not want it and she showed me what it looked like when it died. My goldfish had very red, inflamed, gills right before he died, so I have been cautious with the color red.
And yes, PatSmart did tell me that and then quickly reminded me that as long as my fish dies within two weeks, I can get a new one with a receipt. V_V I don't understand.
I can understand your thing about red gills. I think you'll know just by instinct the difference between healthy red gills and inflamed red gills but I'll run through it just in case. Healthy red gills will be bright red and won't be accompanied by any abnormal behavior. Think of the healthy pinkish red flesh growing back after a burn or cut. Inflamed red gills will be dark and angry red like an infected cut, possibly even bulging out a little from the gill flap and will be accompanied by any number of abnormal behaviors.
That's sad about the goldfish. It's probably a good thing they died, however, because goldfish get to be roughly 10-12 inches long and need a 20g tank bare minimum, preferably a 30g. I doubt most college kids in dorm rooms could have that kind of setup.
I just pulled this off a website called seaworld.org
"Oxygen enters the bloodstream and carbon dioxide diffuses out at the gills, which are feathery structures found along the sides of the head. The gills of a healthy fish are bright red due to the high level of oxygen in the blood that is very close to the surface of the gills. (Without oxygen, the gills would be brown.) In bony fish, the gills are covered by a bony place called an operculum."
Thank you! I feel much better now. I am quite paranoid when it comes to Fabio because of all the problems he had when I first got him that were related to breathing side effects. :) I think he is okay then based on this information.
Yeah, I feel bad for the goldfish. They were definitely abused unintentionally, because the people who handed these fish out gave no instructions, just a small bag of food and a tiny vase for them to live in. ._. I went out and bought a temporary small tank because I had the 5 gallon one at home and would be leaving in a about a month. He was still tiny and had plenty of room. Poor thing.
I'm glad to hear you think Fabio is okay. At this point, the best you can do is watch him and keep his water clean. And, of course, love him and feed him and try not to overfeed him when he does the "feed me" dance . . . why are they so good at the "feed me" dance? And the "feed me" eyes.
Okay, fingers crossed that Fabio stays healthy with no breathing problems. Sounds like a little kid with asthma (I should know, I was one of them).
Yes, he still eats. A lot. So I don't think its anything major. He gets excited every time my hand goes near the food container, so its certainly not effecting his appetite. I worry about that gill. but I suppose everything will be fine. Thanks.