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cinders1031

Pond Comet Severely Injured by Heron

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I am desperately trying to save my comet, Bill. 12 days ago my pond (about 150) gal. was attacked by a Blue Heron. Only two fish resided in the pond, along with a couple small frogs that found their way there. The smaller comet must have been eaten. I came outside and disrupted the attack, seeing the heron flying away. He left Bill in the pond, stabbed right below the head, and missing scales. Bill is unable to swim and just lies on his side. I do not own an acquarium. Bill is in a plastic storage bin with 5 gallons of water. He is about 4 inches in body length. I have an air stone in there which I purchased after this happened. I had to go out of town the day after the attack, and I thought that he would not be alive when I returned. It has been 12 days now. I have been treating with acquarium salt at rate of 1 tsp./gallon, Melafix daily at 1/2 tsp for about 5 days now. I have been changing the water about 2 gals. at a time, using Prime. He would not eat the peas I tried to feed. Slime coat sloughed off, as there was all this orange tissue in the water, but maybe it regenerated? He has red streaks throught his tail and fins, and has developed a couple hemorrhaged areas on the tail and also on one of his gills. Septicemia from the Heron stab? The wound seems to be healing. I have gotten him to eat some of his food (Top Fin Goldfish Flakes) by holding him in the water. There seems to be no way for him to be able to eat unless I hold him. He does have some strength, and probably doesn't really like to be touched. I have ordered MediGold, but it has not arrived. I just went and bought Maracyn Two, but have not used it yet. I am afraid to proceed with this without some direction from you guys.

I know you want the information filled in from the form, but as this is not an acquarium I don't know if the values would be accurate. I have an ammonia test kit (API) and only could find the strip test (API) for the other factors.

Please suggest how to proceed. Thank you.

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It would be best if you could answer the questions about the pond and the bin he is in now

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Thank you. I will do the tests that I have, and answer the questionnaire as best I can. I will report back in a little while.

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This forum is for goldfish in need of help or just general disease discussion.

Please copy & paste fill the following form and fill it out to the best of your ability when requesting help for Goldfish Problems:


  • Test Results for the Following:
  • * Ammonia Level 2.0
  • * Nitrite Level 0
  • * Nitrate level 0
  • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, P, GH and chloramines) Ph in Bin is 8.0, GH is 120, KH is 180. Pond is GH 180, KH 180, Ph 8.0, Nitrite and Nitrate both 0
  • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) PH tap is 7.5
    Other Required Info:
  • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API kits: Ammonia is drops, other factors are API 5 in 1 test strips
  • * Water temperature? Unknown-Bin is outside in a greenhouse and is covered with a cloth
  • * Tank size (how many gals.) Bin is approximately 18 gal, with 5 gals of water. Pond approx 150 gals (guessing)
  • and how long has it been running? Pond is 5 years
  • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? No filter in bin. Pond has a little bio box from Sunterra
  • * How often do you change the water and how much? Pond is by nature. Bin with fish has been changing 2 gals 2x (day and evening)

  • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? Last change in bin was yesterday evening, 2 gals
  • * How many fish in the tank and their size? one 4 inch comet in bin. No fish in pond now.
  • * What kind of water additives or conditioners? Pond has never had anything added. Fish load was 2 comets (sick fish is 5 yrs old, eaten fish was 1 year old)
  • * What do you feed your fish and how often? Top Fin Goldfish Flakes, 1x daily (except nothing during winter)
  • * Any new fish added to the tank? no
  • * Any medications added to the tank? yes
  • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment. Here's what I have done in the QT bin: Aquarium salt at rate of 1 tsp/gallon; Melafix at rate of one-half tsp./5 gallons. These have both been for five days now.
  • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? Puncture wound (from Heron) just below head, fins and tail red, with red streaks. 2 hemorrhaged areas on tail, one gill has hemorrhaged area. (these spots developed within the past couple of days)
  • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Bill is unable to swim. Laying on side on bottom. He seems to change his position by moving a fin on the side he is laying on. His eyes are clear, and he is alert. He is only able to eat if I hold him to get the food. It seems that he spits most of it out. Would not eat the peas I tried several days ago.

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I really believe Bill has a will to live. In his five years of pond life he has already suffered oxygen deprivation when the first winter I didn't have the pump going; last year his original comet friend went missing and he was spooked for weeks. I never figured out what happened, either land animal or maybe heron. Then I got him a new friend, a younger comet. They got along well. Our yard flooded last summer, and I found Bill swimming down the side yard in flood water heading for a drain pipe, and his little friend was swimming through the garden. They survived and went on healthy and happy in the pond...until this.

I have never owned an acquarium, and only know what I've read online and here in the past week or so. If Bill survives, I don't know if he will ever be able to swim again, so if that is the case he may have to live in an acquarium.

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2.0 ammonia is very toxic. You need to change all of the water. I suggest you scoop fishy out with a bowl or other container, empty all of the water, replace with 10 gallons of dechlorinated water with salt, and return fishy to the water. 5 gallons goes bad too fast with a fish of this size. With an injured fish that is probably infected, IMO you really need to do daily 100% water changes. Make sure you match water temperatures.

I had a fish injured by a predator attack. He did recover, but it was a slow process, involving three different antibiotics before I found one that worked. Someone will be along soon to recommend medications.

All test strips are less exact than drop kits, but the API strips are probably worse than random numbers. (I've tried them.) Get a full API drop kit. If you can't find one, the Tetra test strips are the best I have found.

Sick fish need more oxygen, so get an airstone in the tub.

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Thank you, shakaho. I will do the water change (10 gallons with the salt) now. I do have an airstone in the bin. On the day I purchased the test kits, I could only get a dropper kit for ammonia. Only test strips were available for the other tests. I don't think there is a real acquarium supply store anywhere near me, so I have been going to a local pet store. I will try a different shop to see if I can locate the drops, or the Tetra strips as last resort.

As a side note, on the day this happened I rushed to a shop where there is a resident fish "expert." He told me to euthanize him by putting him in the freezer. I have now learned that is not the thing to do. I really hope it does not come to euthanizing him. I feel I have to try all that I can and seek advice from this forum.

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I really don't think you should add the salt back though because salt makes the ammonia even more toxic..... you should only add salt if you gave a cycled filter or are planning on changing the water 100% every day

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Oh no, haley 22, I just did the water change with the salt as suggested above. There is no filter, so I guess I should change 100% daily? There is now 10 gallons of water in the bin.

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Could we have some pics of the wound(s)? I would like to see the extent of the damage, if possible.

I'm sorry this happened, and I hope that Bill will make it!

Leave the salt as it is. You just need to monitor your ammonia, and not let it above 0.5ppm. Daily water changes will be important!

Edited by dnalex
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Yes for sure 100% daily water changes

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haley22: OK, I will do the daily water changes.

dnalex: Thank you for your concern. I will do the water changes and monitor ammonia. I just went out and took some pictures, but I have to set up a photobucket acct. I will be away for awhile this evening, but will try to get the pix posted when I return.

Thank you.

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The only thing I would add is that if the bin can hold 18 gallons of water, why not fill it to 15.

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I agree with what has been said so far. 100% daily water changes in the bin to keep the fish safe. Make sure you use a proper water conditioner if you use tap water, to neutralize the chlorine in the tap water.

Most fish usually recover rather well from external injury, as long as the water is pristine. That should be your main focus right now :)

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ashlee18: Good point. But I'm not sure how much weight the table the bin is on can hold. I don't think I'm comfortable adding too much more weight with this particular set up.

Oerba Yun Fang: I am using Prime to condition the tap water.

I took three pictures, made the Photobucket account. Couple are kind of blurry. I will try to get them posted before I need to leave this evening.

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Here's the pictures of poor Bill:

100_1123.jpg100_1122.jpg

Edited by cinders1031
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One more picture of the other side, with the bloody gill:

100_1124.jpg

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I would increase the salt to 2 teaspoons per gallon, and give him 15 gallons of water in the tub as was suggested by ashlee18. Daily 100% WCs will be extremely important. 24 hours after you increase salt, increase it yet again to 3 teaspoons per gallon, or 0.3%. This concentration is a therapeutic concentration, and I would like to use this first, as it is quite gentle but effective. Maracyn 2 and Medi-Gold are fantastic meds, but are very harsh on kidneys, and we really don't want to push him over the edge. Melafix is fine to use.

Could you get some Prime? This product is a great water conditioner, and will detoxify ammonia and nitrites in addition to removing chlorines and chloramines. If you add a double dose of this to your WC daily, you will have the ammonia situation well under control.

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I'm sorry about what happened,I hope your little comet feels better soon.

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Come on Bill we are rooting for ya, I hope for a fast recovery :D <3

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I dont want to say for sure, but that red mark is that the point of entry?

If so Im wondering if it hit the swim bladder :(

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Poor Mr. Man! Get better quick son your worrying your momma! I can't offer advice but moral support I got in spades. Good luck you two.

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I dont want to say for sure, but that red mark is that the point of entry?

If so Im wondering if it hit the swim bladder :(

If he can't swim at all I was thinking possible nerve damage, the entry point (if that's what it is) looks like it could've hit the spine. The red streaks and such appear to be ammonia poisoning and they should clear up if you keep up the water changes. Can he move at all? does he try?

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That is exactly my question as well. I do think all of the red in the fins is from stress, shock and toxic ammonia.

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Good morning everyone. Thank you for all the concern, well wishes and suggestions. Bill is still hanging in there this morning. The red wound in the first picture is indeed the stab wound from the heron. I don't know how deep it went. He isn't totally paralyzed, but on his own cannot right himself. His fins are able to move. He does try to bounce up a bit. He is very alert and can track things with his eyes. The swim bladder has most likely been injured as he is not buoyant.

I will do as suggested on water changes with the increased (and increasing to 0.3) salt and keep on the Melafix. This will be day seven of Melafix. I have been using Prime in the water. I will double the dose of Prime as suggested. Still waiting for the MediGold food to arrive. I cannot add much more water to this bin due to weight issues, and there are small manufactured holes at the handles that would prevent water going above that point.

I will not give any further medications unless/until directed by you.

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