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Old 01-21-2009, 01:03 PM   #1
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Glowlight Tetra's Belly Bursted

DESCRIPTION OF ILLNESS
I have 5 Glowlight Tetras. One is sick. On 1/19/08, I noticed a swelling on her underbelly the size of a small pea. I moved her from 20-gallon community tank to 5-gallon hospital tank. Shortly thereafter, I noticed loose skin hanging from her underbelly and the swelling was gone (see attached photos). I started Melafix treatment (2 ML per day).

The next morning (yesterday), the loose skin had detached. I then noticed a dark colored sac the size of a small pea on the bottom of the tank. I tried to remove it with a net, but accidentally broke it apart to find what appeared to be undigested bloodworms inside. Yuk! The filter eventually sucked up this debris.

She remained quiet for the first day but started swimming around and seemed to be playing in the air bubbles last night after the second Melafix treatment. She's quiet this morning.

TANK PARAMETERS
COMMUNITY 20 GAL TANK—Nitrate: 30, Nitrite: 0, GH: 150, Chlorine: 0, KH: 80, pH: 6.8
HOSPITAL 5 GAL TANK—Nitrate: 10, Nitrite: 0, GH: 150, Chlorine: 0, KH: 120, pH: 7.2

TANK HISTORY
20 GAL TANK was set up in May of 2005
5 GAL TANK was set up in June of 2005

FILTRATION
Both tanks have Millennium 1000 filters. 85 GPH.

FISH
COMMUNITY 20 GAL TANK—4 Glowlight Tetras (about 1-1/4" long), 2 Bronze Corries (about 1-3/4" long)
HOSPITAL 5 GAL TANK—1 Glowlight Tetra (about 1-1/4" long)

TANK MAINTENANCE
COMMUNITY 20 GAL TANK—Last 5 GAL PWC/gravel vacuuming was on 1/6/09. I do this approximately every 2 to 3 weeks. Tank is due for this now.
HOSPITAL 5 GAL TANK—Last 2.5 GAL PWC/gravel vacuuming was on 10/9/08 after solitary occupant (a snail) died. After the snail's death, haven't done regular water changes since the tank has been unoccupied until now.

AFFLICTED FISH'S BACKGROUND
Added 2 baby Glowlights in August of 2008 and 2 more baby Glowlights in September of 2008. Not sure which batch she came from. Purchased from local tropical fish store both times.

TANK CHANGES/ADDITIONS
Haven't done anything differently with either tank.

FEEDING
I feed frozen food, alternating bloodworms and brine shrimp, feeding them every other day. I have made no feeding changes.

One thing I did notice is that one of the Glowlights (probably the sick one) had been stuffing itself so much during feeding time that its belly would become more distended than the others. Perhaps it may have compacted itself with so much food that it couldn't digest it even the day after being fed?

QUESTIONS
1) Possible diagnosis?
2) What could have been that membrane sac at the bottom of the tank?
3) How/what/when to feed?
4) Could food fall out of her belly if the rupture hasn't healed yet? (I can't tell how big the rupture was or if an opening is still there.)
5) Continuing Melafix treatment recommended?
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:52 PM   #2
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Update

I tried feeding the sick Glowlight a few brine shrimp this evening. She ate them but they came right out of her belly. She reate them and they came out again.

I'm starting to wonder if the membrane sac at the bottom of the tank was her stomach. Is it even possible for a stomach to burst out of a fish? And if this was the case, why would she be swimming around and behaving normally? I've read that some kinds of fish don't have stomachs but I don't know if this applies to Glowlight Tetras.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:56 PM   #3
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that is...fascinating. So they just popped right back out? I wonder how the hunger impulse even works if you have no stomach? You may want to consider humanely euthanizing her so she can avoid starving to death
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:43 PM   #4
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Yes, humanely euthanizing her has crossed my mind. My only hesitation is not knowing what really popped out of her body. If it was something other than her stomach, maybe the Melafix can heal the wound in time for her to eat. Wishful thinking, perhaps?
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:46 PM   #5
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Well, I'm no vet or anything, but I know gaping holes in the bowels don't tend to fix themselves. I guess you could give her a little time, see if maybe it gets better, if she starts looking emaciated you'll have to let her go though. I probably wouldn't bother feeding for a few days. I would think if anything it would irritate the stomach...or lack thereof...more.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:51 PM   #6
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Well, I'm no vet or anything, but I know gaping holes in the bowels don't tend to fix themselves. ...
Thank you for that dose of reality. It put it all in perspective for me.

I'll give her a little time as you said. I will hope for the best but expect the worst.
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:20 PM   #7
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It would be really interesting if it did manage to survive though
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:08 AM   #8
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Even the guy at the tropical fish store said it would be a miracle if she survives. He'd never heard of such a case but seemed fascinated by it.

I'll continue watching her like a hawk (maybe that's the wrong expression!) to monitor her condition. For the time being, she's doing better than expected considering all she's been through. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:30 PM   #9
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Update

I had the Glowlight euthanized two days ago. I don't take euthanasia lightly and dreaded making that decision. But as far as I could tell, my choice was to euthanize her or watch her slowly starve to death. Even the Melafix rep said Melafix would not fix the problem I described to him. His exact words were "Definitely not." I later read that Glowlights do have stomachs so I was almost certain her stomach is what I found at the bottom of the tank.

I didn't feel comfortable doing it myself, so my vet recommended a marine biologist who services their aquarium. I called him and he said he would euthanize her. I put her in a large Ziploc container, adding an imitation plant from the hospital tank to give her shelter as well as something she was familiar with for the 5 mile drive. The owner and his staff were amazed by the gaping hole in her abdomen. They said it was very unusual. One of his staff thought she may have had a parasite when I bought her. He suggested I call the store I bought her from to let them know, which I did.

I bought Cupramine, a buffered active copper, to treat the hospital tank with. He said if I don't treat it for parasites, it will be at least 32 days before I can add any new fish to that tank. I'm not sure if I'll use it or wait and keep my fingers crossed since I'm concerned about adding a heavy metal to the tank.

Since I'd only been feeding my fish frozen food (brine shrimp/bloodworms), I bought Omega One Veggie Flakes and Freshwater Flakes to supplement their diets. Instead of feeding them every-other-day, as usual, I am now feeding them daily, alternating frozen (cutting down the portion) and flake. My only problem is the glowlights seem to eat all the flake food before it reaches the bottom of the tank. The corrys were going crazy over the smell of this new food but I don't think they got any. Is there any sinking food I can feed the corrys?
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:37 PM   #10
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This is fascinating, though very sad and I'm sorry you had to let your little fish go. =(
I use Omega One sinking shrimp pellets for my bottom feeders.
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