About a month ago, I posted that my fish Spock was having troubles with reoccurring SBD. I can't find that post so I had to start a new one.
What is the best thing to do with a fish who is recovering from SBD? He's had it for longer than usual this time, so he hasn't eaten at all in 4 days and I'm a little bit worried that I'll fast him too long. Today I've noticed some improvement (he's more active and less visibly bloated, but he's still floating) but it really worried me that he's been sick for so long. I'm really not wanting to try anything too drastic like the pea treatment, but it there anything more gentle that I can do to help his recovery?
PS. I think in this case the cause is constipation, because when I cleaned his tank yesterday I didn't notice any poop.
Yes all epsom salt is the same. The epsom salt will help to remove some of the swelling in the abdomen and help with constipation, you can also try feeding him some daphnia if he'll take it, it's a natural laxative and much better for them then a pea.
I'm pretty mad right now because I just went to both pet stores in town and neither had Epsom salt even though I know they have carrie it before, because I bought some once. And then when I asked, the saleslady tried to convince me that epsom salt is the same thing as aquarium salt. So I'm just using what my Mom had after all.
At the moment he's looking worse again. I'll update later.
I'm really confused now. This morning he looked almost totally better even though I couldn't see if he'd pooped or not. I didn't feed him, but now he's bloated again. He's being pretty active at the moment, but his appearance is almost back to what it was before the Epsom salt. Is that a sign that it's something besides SBD from constipation?
Could it be internal parasites? I don't know about parasites in fish, but in humans and horses they can cause cyclical bloating like that. They have lifecycles, and at some points in the cycle the horse/person will seem normal, then the eggs hatch and the digestive tract fills up and they bloat again.
Like I said, I'm not knowledgeable about fish parasites, but I thought I'd mention it in case someone who *does* know comes along and can confirm/reject that action in fish. :)
Also, is he in the salt constantly? The salt will take down swelling, but if the underlying problem is not solved, then the swelling will return after a period of time after the end of the salt treatment.
(Even to me that sounds confusing based on what I just said... ;)
IE: you have a swollen finger. You soak in epsom salt for an hour, you take it out of the salt and rinse it off, go about your day. The swelling stays down for a few hours, but eventually returns until you treat again or the underlying problem is fixed.
Could that be the problem for your fish? I hope I'm not creating more questions than answers here, but I always think that more information is better than too little, so maybe someone else can answer these questions for certain. :)
If they gulp a lot of air trying to get their food it can cause an internal bacterial infection (Aeromonas) that will cause SB problems. Soaking their food 5 minutes before feeding them prevents that because the pellets don't stay on the surface. If that was the cause you would need to treat the internal bacteria problem.
Several have said feeding them freeze dried or frozen foods can cause it since it can contain pathogens (bacteria/parasites/etc.) can cause SB problems so only do it as a treat once a week. Mine only started showing signs of problems after feeding them freeze dried blood worms once and I haven't done it anymore. They are now on NLS food and will get some frozen shrimp although 2 don't seem to care for them as treats.
Internal parasites I think can also cause SB problems and generally there are not many signs besides the problem to show they have them. Soaking the food in garlic juice can prevent them and some food contains garlic at a regular amount or Anti-Parasite amount.
When parasites die they can cause a secondary bacteria problem and when bacteria die can cause secondary fungal problem.
Mine has SB with other problems and I've started treatment (3 days so far) for bacteria, fungal and parasite causes. Had no signs of parasites, but one is coming out below his gills and a brown looking sting in the water I'll look at during the next medication water change. He likely has a bacteria infection causing most of his problems, but looks like gill parasites may have been behind his having a hard time even getting small pellets.
Originally I fasted him for 5 days and he had stools but didn't show much of an interest in eating until then. He lost a lot of strength from that and now when he is not bloated I feed him a small pellet or 2 soaked a day as long as he is passing stool. He spends a lot of time propping himself up on the side of the glass near the surface. I take him out and put him in about 1-1.5" of water to get his food which sinks. Next time I plan to soak it in some minced garlic juice I got. I only found 3 small mosq. larve and tried to feed them to him. He couldn't chase them fast enough to get them and wore out fast, so he got small soaked pellets instead. They have grown some so I'll try to see if he can get them also in the next feeding before they fly out of the water :). He doesn't like being suctioned up into the container, but doesn't stress a lot about it either since he knows it's how he gets fed now. I do keep the tank covered with a towel a lot though so he can stay calm while he's fighting off the bacteria and parasites. It's been about 18 days of this now (10 on ES).
So if you haven't done it try the ES for 10 days and if after 7 (should have the bloat down and maybe SB problem fixed) add a medication that will treat him for internal bacteria and parasites and secondary fungus problems from them if he has them.