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Old 05-15-2012, 10:55 PM   #1 
ClassicCharm
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Help! Severe respiratory distress!

My male has a pellet caught in his gills. His gills are completely inflamed, he is respiring heavily, and he is struggling to reach the surface. Photo coming.

What can I do to help him?!
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:10 PM   #2 
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My male has a pellet caught in his gills. His gills are completely inflamed, he is respiring heavily, and he is struggling to reach the surface. Photo coming.

What can I do to help him?!
Find a clean mason jar, the kind used for canning, or perhaps even a clean bowl, and put him in it with just enough water to cover his body. That way he can breathe from the surface without having to swim up to it.

I have no idea what to use for pellets in gills. Someone will be along soon to answer that part, but get him in a shallow container so he can breathe without struggling. His immediate life-threatening situation is not being able to reach the surface of the water to get air.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:14 PM   #3 
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I've got him in a cup in clean shallow water. I moved him from his tank into a cup during cleaning, and I fed him while he was in there and that's when it got stuck. I almost think it would be better to put him back in his tank where he has something to rub on to dislodge it?

Gah, I can't get my stupid phone to upload to this site for a photo.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:20 PM   #4 
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I've got him in a cup in clean shallow water. I moved him from his tank into a cup during cleaning, and I fed him while he was in there and that's when it got stuck. I almost think it would be better to put him back in his tank where he has something to rub on to dislodge it?

Gah, I can't get my stupid phone to upload to this site for a photo.
If you put him back in the tank watch him like a hawk. If he can't get to the surface to breathe you're going to have to get him out of there and back in the shallow water so he doesn't drown. I've read that they will drown in as little as two hours.

He may well dislodge the pellet while in the tank but given the issue he may need some Epsom salts to aid in healing. Assuming, of course, that he can reach the surface.

Good luck! I can't image how you're feeling. It's like, how do I do surgery on a betta?
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:26 PM   #5 
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There it is. It's stuck right at the front. I've taken even more water out of the cup now. He's leaning against the side of the cup now and "panting" heavily, both with his gills and his mouth. Maybe I could put something in the cup for him to rub against?
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:29 PM   #6 
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There it is. It's stuck right at the front. I've taken even more water out of the cup now. He's leaning against the side of the cup now and "panting" heavily, both with his gills and his mouth. Maybe I could put something in the cup for him to rub against?
If you have some gravel to add to the cup it couldn't hurt. Is he getting surface air? If not, take some water out so he can get to it.

Is the pellet in a place where you could grab it with a pair of tweezers? It would be touchy, but if he's having that much trouble you may have to do it.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:34 PM   #7 
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He is getting air, he's just getting tired. Added a little pile of gravel to the cup so hopefully he'll scratch against it.

I don't think I could get to it simply because he's struggling to swim- there's no room to get underneath him. Otherwise I would try tweezers.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:37 PM   #8 
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He is getting air, he's just getting tired. Added a little pile of gravel to the cup so hopefully he'll scratch against it.

I don't think I could get to it simply because he's struggling to swim- there's no room to get underneath him. Otherwise I would try tweezers.
Oh gosh, I hope OldFishLady and the other experienced owners come in soon! I'm sure they know how to help him get the pellet out.

Fingers crossed for both of you.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:57 PM   #9 
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I PMed you too but here's a quick follow up on my advice: Since bettas can breathe regular air, he won't suffocate so take all the time you need. If he flips around too much, you might try sedating him with a diluted drop of clove oil before you remove him from the water. If you do use clove oil, it would be like one tiny drop in a liter of water and then add a drop of that mixture to his tank. Let him get kind of sluggish and then remove him and place him on the damp paper towel. If you have someone to help you hold him, that would be great so you can focus on getting the pellet out.

Worst comes to worst, the pellet is designed to break down after time and it should eventually disintegrate. My only worry is what kind of damage to his gills he'll have if it comes to that. :/

Good luck!

EDIT: Once you put him back in the tank, add 1 tsp of AQ salt per gallon and if you have it, Stress Coat. You'll want him to get lots of slime coat to to cover his inflamed gills and to replace the slime he'll lose when you handle him.
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:02 AM   #10 
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Any alternative to clove oil as a sedative? I don't have any but he's a goon so I feel like he's going to flip around like a mad man and a sedative would be helpful.

If he is quiet, are fingers my best option for removal, or is it safe to use something else? I'm thinking the rubber-coated end of a bobby pin. I have a steady hand, I promise.

Yes, I can see that it's starting to darken and get softer, but I'm worried that some parts will fall off and others get stuck in there more.

Thank you so much for your help. Veterinary emergencies with fish are by far the most stressful.
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