DISORDERS OF THE
WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DON'T KNOW
By Jim E. Quarles
I can't think of any problem affecting discus that is more
unsettling to the owner than to enter the room and see a beautiful fish
swimming upside down or with its tail dragging the bottom of the tank and it
nose pointed at the sky, or head-down tail up!
See the lump from his swim bladder
When this happens it is known as swim-bladder disease. What we don't
know far exceeds what we do know about this problem. Just a few methods
are used to try to recover these fish. I am sad to report that in most
cases that is not possible at this time.
However, that should not prevent us from working hard and doing our
best to not only save the fish but perhaps learn something new to add to
the knowledge about the event.
Known Causes And Some Suggested
Various factors, including sudden changes in temperatures, and other
factors, such as microbial infection may be involved.
Symptoms: The fish experiences difficulty in maintaining its position
or balance in the water. It may 'list' one way or the other. In some cases
it will even float on its side at the surface of the tank. It may even
become upside down and try to swim that way.
These swim-bladder disorders can and do occur in a variety of
situations, often this happens with no warning and spontaneously in
previously normal stock. Other fish in the tank may go totally unaffected.
While this problem happens in all types of fish species it is most common
in fancy goldfish. But in their case it is more likely due to mis-shapened
swimbladders and these fish would be considered culls and would not be
treated or allowed to reproduce themselves.
Since the exact cause is unknown or very poorly understood, I have a
hard time recommending treatment. Here is what I do. I remove the fish to
a treatment tank containing shallow water at 82 degrees F. I then add
aquarium salt or rock salt to 1 gm per gallon. I then treat with a
proprietary antibacterial agent for a few days.
If this fails I generally then painlessly destroy which remain clearly
General recommendations: Avoid sudden changes in the temperature of the
Maintain the cleanest possible water supply you can. Do not prolong the
suffering of fish that can not be cured.
I know we all love our fish, but sometimes the best course of action is