Suna Solar's Swim Bladder
(Insight on floating, sinking, x-rays and treatment)
For those interested, most of this is covered in my threadHow do you know when it's time to let go? and documents almost my entire experience with treating suna.
Prior conditions: Suna has always been a little floaty, and he has had two "tumors" on him his entire life. (One by his left eye, and one long one on his right side) They have been tested and deemed nothing to worry about, because they haven't affected him at all.
From about January 15th, Suna started having severe floating issues. He went a few weeks completely upside down, then a week on the bottom, and then he started exclusively floating upside down on the top of the tank.
After this point, I had gone through:
Lowering the water level
Raising the water level
Exclusively feeding peas for MONTHS
Maracyn II treatment
On February 22nd, I was desperately worried because I had tried everything I could think of, and the other goldfish forum I was active on was taking a very long time to respond, and people were running out of advice to tell me. I came here to Koko's hoping for emergency advice because now he had no appetite, wasn't pooping, and was incredibly lethargic.
He started to develop sores on his stomach, which I treated with vaseline:
In the beginning of March, I started Suna on a treatment of Kanaplex and Metroplex.
He was also fasted during this time, which didn't improve anything.
Schedule provided by Jarad:
Day 1 - 100% water change, add 1/2 Teaspoon of Epsom Salt, add Kanaplex and Metroplex.
Day 2 - Add a double dose of Prime
Day 3 - 100% water change, add 1/2 Teaspoon of Epsom Salt, add Kanaplex and Metroplex.
Day 4 - Add a double dose of Prime
Day 5 - 100% water change, add 1/2 Teaspoon of Epsom Salt, add Kanaplex and Metroplex.
Day 6 - Add a double dose of Prime and let's check in
Unfortunately, this treatment did not work.
In the end of March I decided that my best bet was to bring him all the way to LSU's veterinary teaching hospital after hearing rumors of them having a fish vet.
At LSU, we discovered that Suna had an enormous amount of gas in either his swim bladder, or in his intestinal track.
Lovely user Pearlscaleperfect shared some insight on to what was going on inside of Suna's X-rays:
"The swim bladder is divided into two lobes, the cranial and the caudal, in fancy goldfish the caudal can be misshapen, tiny, or completely absent. In this case the caudal has seemingly migrated downward and sits below the cranial, which would explain the floating. The liver in goldfish is odd and is kind of a space filler, it just seems to fill in extra area not being utilized by the other organs. it and the GI tract are in the dark area circled, which looks normal. The other object should be the kidney but when things get so shifted around organ wise I could be incorrect. So it appears the only real issue is the location of the caudal lobe which is likely making it tough for the fish to keep balanced. The swim bladder will likely refill and need to be drained again, but it varies upon the individual on how long it will take. Hope this helps a bit! "
Helen also (recently) offered information about Suna's swim bladder at this state:
"with the swim bladders so low, i can guarantee you that the top part of the membrane which is fused to the inner lining of the fish's organ cavity at the top has become detached. this could be from injury, or it could be from an infection which is now resolved. no amount of surgery will cause this to reattach, no amount of physio will cause this to correct. it may, for a very short time and after a long period of time (through keeping the fish upright) return to the top, where it should be, but there is nothing to keep it there."
The vet had already decided that the best way of treating it would be to aspirate it and get as much of the gas out as possible, and from then on Suna started sitting on the bottom:
Suna received Baytril injections for 2 weeks to avoid any bacterial infections from having a hole poked in his swim bladder.
Since the vet visit in March, Suna has remained sitting sideways on the bottom of the tank. I've hand-fed him the whole time and although he can kind of push himself upwards in the water and float around, it is clear that his swim bladder still does not function properly.
In the end of June, I decided that the best course of action would of course be to bring him back to the vet for more x-rays to see if there was anything that could be hindering him.
We found out that... the lower part of his swim bladder was now missing. (Judging from my information from Helen, this was probably from piercing it)
Unfortunately the only way to know "for sure" what was going on would be to actually cut him open and look, but that wasn't something I was interested in doing.
We started talking about different ways to treat it, and the vet suggested that maybe we should try suturing some floats along his back and see if it could help him out without damaging his scales or fins.
I decided that it COULD be something to consider, and I figured it may work since there would be very little contact with him and it seemed more comfortable than a harness (which I had already been advised against many times on here)
Unfortunately I had to work the day of his appointment so it was my boyfriend who brought him in, not me. And when my boyfriend brought him back home, he was inside of a harness anyway.
My boyfriend told me that what they described to him was that they thought it would be easier to maintain in the long run. They warned him that he suffered "a little scale loss" as a result of them handling him so much to fit him for it so they prescribed us more baytril injections and salt dips to make sure he wouldn't get any infections.
Well, when my boyfriend got him out of the bucket and into the main tank it was very clear that it was more than just a little scale loss.
As you can see by the following picture, he suffered skin damage as well. He had small chunks of skin and scales just dangling off of his side, and his skin underneath was bright red.
In this one, you can see the damage to his fins clearly. His right pectoral fin wound up getting stuck like that inside of the harness repeatedly, even after I was able to push it under. By the end of the week he had NO fin left and it was just a small, brown stub that he wasn't able to move.
Despite the fact that he was now elevated, his wounds made him severely lethargic. His appetite was almost gone, he wouldn't try to swim and he barely even moved his gills. Afraid of infection, I left him inside of the harness to help keep him off of the bottom of the tank since there was still a small amount of sand that I was afraid of him brushing against.
Leaving him in the harness wound up being the biggest mistake I've ever had.
The harness cut into BOTH sides of him throughout the week. His dorsal fin was almost completely deteriorated, His anal fins turned into those white stumps you see along his bottom, and his caudal fins became bent and developed sores.
As soon as I saw blood coming off of his side one day while feeding, I made the instant decision to cut him out of the harness and take my chances with him just laying on the bottom of the tank.
Now that he's been out of a harness for about a week and a half, he's starting to heal and his fins are very slowly coming back... but I can't stand the fact that he was put through something like this all because I was desperate to get him off of the bottom of the tank.
Even though I would have never chosen to put a harness on him, I hope this stands as a lesson that:
HARNESSES ARE NOT A CURE FOR SWIM BLADDER PROBLEMS
Vets are humans too and of course they make mistakes, so please be quick to educate them about the dangers of them if any of yours suggest it.
(I can't judge what the intent of the "specialist" above my vet wanted out of all of this....but it was his idea, not hers.)
My vet meant well, and she only wanted to help Suna... but sometimes, you just have to know when it's time to STOP messing with your fish!!!
I know how difficult it can be, believe me. Overall I spent $800-900 for treating Suna... which was honestly money I couldn't afford to spend.
I drained my savings and couldn't afford go to summer school anymore, but I love my fish so much that any chance of "fixing" him was worth more than all of the money in the world to me.
I do not regret the X-rays, because they helped me learn what was wrong with him to begin with and they helped me learn the 2nd time around that his swim bladder was not functioning anymore.
What I regret is that I was so focused on what I wanted for my fish, and how I wanted him to swim again so badly, but this whole time he has been happy and healthy on the bottom. Had I just left him that way, he wouldn't be hurting now.
Suna's swim bladder is as fixed as it probably ever will be. I've accepted that he's going to be permanently disabled, but as long as he still flips around in excitement every time he sees me... I think he's fine with it.