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Thread: Diagnosis & Treatment of Swim Bladder Disorder

  1. #1
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Diagnosis & Treatment of Swim Bladder Disorder

    I have a 23" Hoshikin kohaku that has been doing well until about two months ago when it started developing a swollen abdomen on the left side of the koi just right behind the pectoral fin. It started out as a small mound that has now grown to about 1" raised and 5-6" in length along the body. I will take & post pixs tonight for a better diagnosis.

    My original thought was she was egg-bound. My reasoning is that I didn't fast her long enough over the past winter. However, she is only sansai and did not appear to be carrying a lot of eggs. I asked around and some said that it might be egg-bound and that a long winter of fasting might help. However, others are saying that it might be swim bladder disease since koi don't have eggs that far up in the body because the swelling is right behind the pec fins. She does appear more sluggish/lethargic than the rest of the herd. Once in a while she would hang her head down as if she is tired. Other than that she appears pretty normal.

    Just curious to hear what the diagnosis of swim bladder disease is. Also, someone mentioned that I can try sticking a needle on the side of the abdomen to try and relieve the air in the bladder. Should I consider bringing her into the QT so that she doesn't have to adjust to too much depth? Are there any other treatment options for swim bladder dz? Should I get a veterinarian to examine her or is this easily fixable? Thanks in advance. This hobby is much tougher than I thought it would be..........................

  2. #2
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Hello Lam . . .

    Sorry to hear about your koi.

    Having had one koi with SBD doesn't make us experts, but the two signs we had (and that got increasingly worse over time) were:

    * Gulping air and blowing bubble streams (an attempt to reinflate)
    * Bottom sitting (to the point of sores on the belly)

    There was never any visible swelling.

    And since the problem with SBD is insufficient inflation (not excess air), the thought of sticking koi with SBD is bizarre?

    There are other conditions where that might be a treatment option -- but not SBD.

    Best wishes,

  3. #3
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Thanks Don. I kept on thinking that SBD is a d/o where there is too much air in the swim bladder d/t either primary or secondary reasons. This explains the raised abdomen. Also, from the two books I read, online, and friends, they said that sticking a needle in an attempt to draw either air or purulous fluid out might help.

    I don't even know for sure whether it's SBD or not. My kohaku doesn't gulp air or blow bubbles. She does sit on the bottom once in a while. She also tends to stay right behind the skimmer on the surface. She does swim slower than the rest of the herd.

    I want to try and diagnose and treat her myself just to learn. But if the consensus is to seek professional care then I will contact a koi vet. While all my fids are special to me, this one usually deserves a little more TLC than the rest.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    If the swollen area is only behind the one pectoral fin, I would tend to suspect a tumor or cyst. If the swelling extends the length of the abdomen on one side, then the possibility of eggs should be considered.

  5. #5
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoiCop View Post
    Hello Lam . . .
    Having had one koi with SBD doesn't make us experts, but the two signs we had (and that got increasingly worse over time) were:

    * Gulping air and blowing bubble streams (an attempt to reinflate)
    * Bottom sitting (to the point of sores on the belly)

    There was never any visible swelling.
    I had one and the symptoms were exactly as Don describes with no outward indication of a problem other than a small ulcer where it constantly bottom sat. In addition, as the condition got worse I noticed that koi could not suspend itself in water without swimming. If it tried to stay still, it would sink like a rock. It lived about 6 months after I first noticed it. I hope you have better luck.

  6. #6
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Urghhh....I took some pixs last night but they turned out too dark. Will try and retake pixs tonight.

  7. #7
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmer Steve View Post
    . . . as the condition got worse I noticed that koi could not suspend itself in water without swimming. If it tried to stay still, it would sink like a rock.
    Good point, Steve, and I should have included that third symptom.

    Thanks for pointing it out,

  8. #8
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    I have a kohaku which she on occassion would blow up just behind the pectals, but uniform on both sides. After a few weeks she returned to normal. Not sure if this was a result of eggs, over eating or what. But I do not believe it was a swim bladder, which is much higher and to the rear I belive. Also badder simptums include tilting and failure to hold possitions in the water. My kin ki utsuri, you may remember, we thought she had a swim bladder problem,but terned out to be an injury within the gill socket lining, which required antibiotics and time to heal. Shes great now.

    Point I would watch her for a while and stop feeding her, incase this causes excess gass.
    Bob

  9. #9
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Today has got to be the lowest point in the hobby. Since I started this thread, I have bowled my kohaku to examine her, moved her to the QT inside the garage, and injected her a couple of times with a combination of Aztreonam and Amikacin. I even poked a needle on the more swollen side hoping to release air but was unsuccessful. On examination I noticed that her scales were raised and pussssy. Her abdomen was also hard when I pressed it. This led me to suspect that it might be a tumor formation rather than an air bladder disorder.

    This morning, I noticed that my kohaku has gotten worst. She has lost several scales on the abdomen and was not as active as a few days ago. That's when I decided to pull the plug to end her pain and misery. It was extremely difficult emotionally. I now understand what Sir Luke was going through when he had to euthanize his whole herd. I also hope that none of you will have to go through something like this.

    After she was euthanized, I mustered enough strength to open her up for further examination. On the first cut, clear and light yellow fluid started flowing out. There was also a large adipose-like mass in her abdomen that is consistent with a tumor. I suspect that the tumor was malignant since it has spread and grown quickly over a period of a couple of months. This explains why the broad-spectrum antibiotics were not working. I don't know what caused the tumor but I suspect that it's either because I didn't fast her long enough this past winter for her eggs to absorb or it was just a random event.

    She is now buried next to the pond with a cross on her grave. This will serve as a reminder to make sure to fast my koi, to not push their growth too fast, and to feed appropriate food based on the season and pond temp. I hope that I won't have to experience anything like this for a long time.

  10. #10
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that, Lam.

    If one's been in this hobby long enough, one's lost fish; usually, quite a few -- so don't beat yourself up.

    Hang in there, bud.

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