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Old 02-08-2006, 04:34 PM   #1
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sick koi - bloated belly - please help!

Here's the scoop:
About 6 months ago I received 2 very young koi from a friend (they spawned in his pond, and had more than he knew what to do with). Right now I live in an apartment, so I don't have a pond. The koi are residing in a small 6 gallon tank at the moment, although I am in the process of setting up a 75 gallon for them (until I move and get a pond). The 6 gallon has been inhabited for about 1.5 years - before the koi, 5 barbs lived in the tank. I have a small power filter on the tank (not sure what model), and an air stone. I usually do a ~40% water change and gravel vacuum every 2 weeks. Last change was Sunday (3 days ago). I've been feeding the koi flake food, as they are too small for most pelleted types. The koi are currently about 4" long total (about 3" without fins). I haven't added any new gravel, decorations, etc for the last year. When I got them, the koi had a mild case of ick, but I cleared that up in a couple weeks with a 3-4 g/L salt treatment. Now for the tank parameters:

Temp 68 degrees F
Ph 7.6
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate unknown

Now the symptoms:
One of the koi is perfectly healthy, and acting normally. The other has a bloated stomach area, and it seems one side is slightly larger than the other. There is no sign of raised scales at this time. I can see no discolorations, masses, or external signs of fungus or parasites. The koi does have trouble staying upright, and has been spending more and more time resting on the bottom of the tank (often tilted to one side). He seems alert. At first he seemed only slightly troubled by his tilting, and swam almost normally. The last couple days he has been slowing down, and he has been less interested in food. I noticed he was slightly fatter than his brother about a month ago, but until the end of last week, he seemed perfectly healthy. In the last 36 hours, I've gradually added salt to the tank to get the concentration up to 3g/L. I have no idea what is wrong with the fish, and I don't know what else I can do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 02-08-2006, 09:54 PM   #2
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It could be worth trying the blanched pea trick, for a constipation cure. Get some frozen peas, and put them in the microwave. Peel the skin off, and feed the mushy part to the fish. They will normally devour it, and it will cure them of constipation problems. If that is simply it, your fish should get better in a few days.

Two 4" fish in a 6 gallon tank is tiny, and I assume you know that. It could be that they(it) are getting stressed from being in such cramped quarters. How much longer will they be in the 6 gallon? (ie: how much longer until the 75 gallon is set up?)
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:35 PM   #3
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Also add some epsom salt to the water. Recommended level of salt is 1/8 tsp per 5 gallons. Keep a very close eye on him because goldfish and koi are succeptible to swim bladder illness. Good luck and keep up posted.
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:14 PM   #4
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The 75 gal is still cycling. I hope it will be ready within a week. I guess I could move them over earlier, but I don't know if the additional stress would outweigh the benefits of a larger tank..... Any thoughts?

I put in some peas this morning, but neither of the fish were immediately attracted to them. As a test, I put a very small amount of normal food in the tank - the healthy fish ate it immediately. Hopefully, they will pick at the peas if I leave them there for a while...

Thanks for the advice so far. Now comes the hardest part - waiting to see if the fish gets better.
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:19 PM   #5
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I also added a second air stone, just in case it will help.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:42 PM   #6
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I would also put in the epsom salts as it will help draw out fluid. I wouldn't move them before your cycle is done.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:54 PM   #7
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I currently have 3g/L NaCl in the tank. Should I dose the epsom salt in on top of the NaCl, or should I change out some of the water to reduce NaCl content first? Thanks!
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:24 PM   #8
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In that case I'd leave it as it is and if no improvement in a day change out some of the water and add some epsom salt. It usually takes trial and error to find what works best.
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Old 02-10-2006, 10:21 AM   #9
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The belly of the sick koi appears to be less swollen this morning, which is good. Unfortunately, his activity level hasn't increased - he is still sitting on the bottom of the tank. I don't think he's eaten anything for about 2 days now (although the healthy fish has taken a liking to the peas I put in).

Although the new tank is not finished cycling, I had an idea for how I could move the koi into their new, spacious (at least for the next year...) tank. What if I took the filter from their existing tank and put it on the new tank?? I would think this would help prevent any further ammonia spikes even if the official tank filter isn't up to the task just yet. Thoughts??
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:55 PM   #10
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It will help although not positive it will eliminate the ammonia entirely. Run both the old and the new filters on the tank and monitor parameters daily and do water changes as necessary. Also you can take some gravel from the old tank, put it in a pair of pantyhose or mesh bag and put that into the new tank which will help as well.
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Old 02-11-2006, 11:48 AM   #11
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Saturday, 10:00am update:

The sick koi still shows no interest in food, and is still just resting on the bottom of the tank. I performed a 50% water change (careful to keep the salt concentration and temperature from fluctuating), and moved the health koi to the 75g. I think the tank is ready, and I am monitoring ammonia/nitrite to be sure. Since the NaCl alone doesn't seem to be working, I added epsom salts today. I hope this works, because the longer the koi goes without food, the worse off he'll get.
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Old 02-11-2006, 08:19 PM   #12
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I hope the little guy feels better soon. Keep us updated as to how he is doing with the addition of the epsom salts.
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Old 02-12-2006, 01:03 AM   #13
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Update: Saturday 11pm

Well, I think the epsom salt helped a bit, but the poor fellow is still in bad shape. He started swimming again for a few minutes, but he can only pull right hand turns, so he ended up going in circles and then going back to his resting place on the bottom of the tank. I tried some food, but no interest. The healthy fish LOVES the 75 gal, and there have been no ammonia/nitirite spikes.
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Old 02-12-2006, 12:40 PM   #14
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I have a quite similar problem with my Red Dwarf Gourami ! He has a big belly and has lost interest in food since a while now. He keep hiding in my rocks in a small cave and when he comes out he is always bullied by the other fishes. My other fishes are quite ok no problem at all.

I added this one about a month ago.

TANK : 15 Gallon
TEMP: 29¬ļC
PH : 6.5 <--- a little low i know as i'm trying to raise the PH and KH
NITRITE: 0
AMMONIA : 0

I dont know what to do i think it will surely die eventually if he doesn't eat. If i add peas does canned peas work as well ? if i add salt does aquarium salt does the same ?
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Old 02-12-2006, 01:14 PM   #15
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Here is a good post on treatment of swim bladder disorder in goldies/koi. I think the time for meds might be now. Keep up with the epsom salts and don't feed the fish.
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Old 02-12-2006, 01:51 PM   #16
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Which medication would you suggest? Thanks.
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Old 02-12-2006, 06:45 PM   #17
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Hyrules, no aquarium salt does quite the opposite of epsom salt. Frozen peas are best, canned peas don't have as much nutritional value but will work if you have no frozen peas. Is your gourami's scales sticking out from the body? Gourami's are more prone to dropsy than to swim bladder illnesses, IMO.

GreenGiant, I used Nalagram with great success. Maracyn II can also be used. I also believe that Jungle Fungus Eliminator works with swollen fish diseases.
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Old 02-12-2006, 07:34 PM   #18
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Hard for me to tell i have isolated him in a "hospital" floating thing. I will photography him and post back pics. Like i`ve said earlier he doesn't want to eat. he just stay put and swim.
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Old 02-12-2006, 07:49 PM   #19
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Here what he looks like. You can see a piece of pea and some blood worm on the bottom of the isolation gadget.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg dscn1093__large__997.jpg (72.5 KB, 259 views)
File Type: jpg dscn1089__large__388.jpg (74.2 KB, 145 views)
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Old 02-12-2006, 09:07 PM   #20
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Hyrules, keep with the peas and epsom salt if there are no scaleless fish in the tank. I'd also recommend starting a new thread with those pics and seeing if anyone else has seen that before. It doesn't look like dropsy to me. Also just a note for future reference, hijacking a thread is considered to be rude. And I know this first hand, I've done it!
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