What is “Flashing” in Koi or Pond Fish?
“Flashing” is basically just a fish that is “scratching” itself on the pond / tank bottom, or ornamentation. It USUALLY doesn’t mean anything, unless it’s “more and more common” or it’s happening at least hourly. There are lots of causes of flashing koi illuminated here (click).
Just some images (that may load slowly) of koi flashing:
What is “Flashing” in Koi or Pond Fish?
The loss of an eye sac in a Bubble Eye
The loss of an eye sac in a Bubble Eye is usually disappointing, but you may be rewarded to know that the eye sac will grow back. In the first Bubble Eye I saw with this trauma, I was amazed to see a tiny sac coming back under the damaged eye and within a couple of months, the sac was almost matched to the original intact one.
Regrowth of the sac is not as likely to be as easy if water quality is poor. Make sure that all your nitrogen-parameters are ideal, including Nitrate. Check pH often to make sure this is not sagging as well.
The loss of an eye sac in a Bubble Eye
If the fish seems depressed or “sick” after the injury, it’s not a bad idea to apply salt. Here’s how.
“I just want to treat my sick fish with something. Hurry!”
Some folks just won’t check stuff. They don’t want to understand or get in front of the actual causes. Just fix it.
How to save your fish almost every time, by adding stuff to the water.
The most common approach to fish diseases, is just to put medicine in the water with the fish.
I have spent over 20 years trying to get people to be better at the hobby and learn what they are doing, and to prevent future disease outbreaks, what they are doing wrong.
That educational objective has been an absolute fail. To this day, most people just want to put the medicine in the water.
“Come on. What do I treat the fish with?”
And so in this protocol, all you do is “add stuff”:
- New water,
- pH buffer,
- salt, and
- APIs General Cure.
That is literally “it”.
And while I will spare you as much learning reading and testing as possible, I do need to provide you with more details on specifically how to add the above “stuff”.
Here is how to save most fish, without getting better at the hobby at all. At the conclusion of this tutorial, you will have salvaged live, healthy fish. (Until they leave the hospital tank and go back into the main facility where the original problems remain unrecognized.)
The following protocol does not apply to Marine Fish. It does not apply to very large fish that would be inappropriately housed in a 10 gallon facility. Although, the protocol can be scaled upward to any size facility you need.
Step one, obtain a 10 gallon or larger container that can be heated, and covered.
For best results, ensure that the hospital facility is at least 1 gallon of water per 1 inch of fish.
Without understanding why, if it turns out your hospital facility is larger than your main facility, then you have just accidentally learned that your fish are overcrowded and that may be all that’s wrong with them.
Fill the container within 2 inches of the top with tapwater.
Install a sponge filter powered by an air pump, and a small heater (100W per 10 gallons) to achieve a temperature of 78° in your hospital facility. The sponge filter (specifically) is much more important, and much more of a boon to this protocol than you should bother to learn. Just do it.
Okay okay okay….here’s a fact but I said I’d just show you how to put stuff in the water…. A sponge filter with <25ppi makes life hard for swarming parasites. Really hard. It can hold them long enough for them to die without a host. It’s not a ‘treatment’ but it IS an impediment of consequence to ciliate and other ‘swimming’ microscopic parasites.
Buy a spray of silk plants to put into the hospital facility to provide the fish with much-needed cover (a “hide”) to minimize the impact of stress and crowding.
Bio seed your hospital facility from your existing facility. Bioseeding is the transfer of bio-active-organics and beneficial bacteria from your existing, donor filtration system to the new, sponge filtration system. Sponge filters lend themselves especially well to this technology. Not hang-ons or canisters.
In the hospital facility, you will need to regulate pH to a species-appropriate level, so without learning about pH, this is how you do that:
Goldfish, and just about all the ‘bread and butter’ species in franchise pet stores are acclimated to Neutral.
South American tetras, cichlids, barbs, South American discus, catfish, Oscars, and most other South American fish will need a ph of 6.8 to neutral pH so you could use neutral regulator 7.0
African cichlids, mollies, guppies, brackish water fish, gobies, monos, scats, most live bearers, and many other African species appreciate a slightly higher pH and you would use “African Cichlid buffer”. Follow label directions.
For the most part, you will have addressed a pH problem without understanding it. Sadly, this will not prepare you to manage pH in the main system when the fish go back in. That would be a departure from ‘just adding medicine to the water’ which is the stated goal here..
Having done all of the above, you have created a suitable hospital facility of at least 1 gallon of water per 1 inch of fish, with an appropriate pH for the species, with some foliage-cover for the fish, well-aerated by, and filtering it with, a sponge filter, that has been cycled from the existing system, the water is dechlorinated, and heated to 78°. You have a hospital facility that is suitable for 97% of all weak or sick fish.
Feed freeze dried krill in sparing amounts, 2x daily which has been crunched down to a size that is appropriate for the fish you have in the facility.
Now you know how to make a suitable hospital facility without a shred of understanding as to why it all functions together to save fish so well.
Time to move fish:
Check the water temperature in the existing system, and check the water temperature in your hospital facility to make sure that they are within 5° of each other. That is, 5° FAHRENHEIT not Celsius.
It may be that the main system is far too cold, which was the problem in the first place but we didn’t want to test anything, we just wanted to add things to the water. So you may have just accidentally learned that the water in your main system is too cold.
Move affected fish from the mother system to the hospital facility.
The best way to accomplish that would be to net the fish into a bowl or cup, and move them over and slowly dip hospital water into the cup mixing gradually with the mother water and then after a minute or three, letting the fish go into the hospital system.
Watch the first fish you transfer for 15 minutes to make sure that there is no shock. If all goes well with the first fish, you may move the remainder into the hospital tank.
There is a 80% chance that the fish will immediately improve in the hospital tank because the pH is not crashed down to 6.0 …like it is in the main system, meaning that a crashed pH was the problem the whole time in the main system. Recall that the goal was not to test anything, but to just add things.
While the fish are in the proper pH in the spacious hospital system, there is a good chance they will just get stronger and stronger until you move it back to the main system with the crashed pH. Gosh if only we were willing to actually test the pH.
I would prefer that you leave no fish in the main system as they may harbor parasites-in-waiting, for the fish when they come back from the hospital system. If you leave fish in the main system, you will not have corrected their pH issues either, old-water quality issues, trematodes, or potentiated their recovery from bacterial infections.
In other words, while you will have blindly improved literally *everything* for the fish that go into the hospital tank, you will have corrected nothing for the remaining fish in the main system.
And, not understanding the impact and value of a proper pH, new water, high aeration and sponge filtration, bioseeding, and the effect of temperature on the immune system, the fish in the main system will not be receiving *any* benefit.
In a spacious hospital facility, under high aeration with sponge filtration recently bio seeded, dechlorinated water with the proper pH, plant material for cover, no stress, at 78°, the fish are ready for treatment.
What these two compounds treat is unimportant. We just want to add things. This combination of therapies addresses a multitude of pathogens from ciliates, to trematodes, to cestodes to hexamita, and will exert a complete control of 90+ percent of pathogenic issues without endangering the fish.
Please follow instructions in the salt article on my website at DrJohnson.com. The nuts and bolts of that regimen involve the addition of a total dose of 3 teaspoons of non-iodized salt per one-gallon of water, spread over the course of 36 hours to systems containing no live plants nor any wild caught South American catfish.
Follow label instructions on the API General Cure. For the purposes of this ‘just add stuff’ treatment and sparing you the science behind the interval, that would be an application every other day for only three treatments.
Without the slightest notion as to why the fish are recovering, they will strengthen.
Feed them per their species requirements, or feed freeze dried krill which is eagerly excepted and highly nutritious, keep them in the hospital facility at 78° with a properly buffered pH and a highly functioning air-driven sponge filtration system, under the elixir of salt and General Cure, until they are strong and then move them back into the main facility.
If parasites were suspected in the main system, they have to die.
You have two options. You can treat the main system with the salt and General Cure, or you can leave the main system fish free for two weeks at 78df – meaning you have deprived of parasites of their host and thereby extincted them.
But either way you should keep the fish in the hospital system with the salt for two weeks to make sure all their parasites have expired.
On return to their main facility, which is conceivably smaller than the hospital facility (please keep tropical aquarium fish at less than 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water), they may be too cold (please keep aquarium fish at 78 DF), the pH may be too low (please buffer pH to neutral), parasites may still exist, they may have too-little foliage cover, high levels of background pollution may exist without adequate filtration (Please use sponge filters), water changes (please replace water frequently) or aeration, making illness an inevitable recurrence.
But the hospital facility will always be there, bubbling along at neutral pH, with superior filtration and oxygenation, and at 78df as an appropriate environment to recover the fish if they fail again.
10 gallon or larger aquarium or fish-safe container.
Thermometer x 2.
Plastic or silk plants.
Species specific PH buffer or Neutral 7.0.
API General Cure.
Non iodized table salt.
Freeze dried Krill.
Aquarium heater 100W per 10 gallons.
I cannot help but mention here that anyone keeping fish as pets should, whenever possible, employ a trickle water replacement system. Your “luck” with pet fish will be immeasurably improved. The fish will seem “bullet proof.“
Treating Fish Diseases Without Testing Or Training
Goldfish with Salt dusting on their pectoral fins and gill covers
It’s possible to gender (tell the sex of…the male, or femality) of Goldfish and Koi as small as a few inches, especially in the Springtime. The way to do this is observe closely the gill covers, and the leading edge of the pectoral fins. (Those are the fins that emerge immediately behind the gill opercula).
The gill covers and the leading edge of the pectorals will feature a row of almost imperceptible, small white bumps. Except for their orderly array, they could be mistaken for ICK. (Ichthyophthirius multifilis.)
In larger fish, those over 6 inches for Goldfish and those over 10 inches for Koi, these bumps are pretty easy to see. In smaller fish, the bumps would be absent in the cooler months and late summer, but can be palpable with the tip of the tongue if your fingertips are not sensitive enough to be sure about.
Remember, in Springtime, these bumps are more prominent.
Finally, the MALES will bear these spawning tubercles or pimples. The female will have no such bumps or roughness of the pectoral leading ray.
Goldfish With Bumps on Pectoral Fins and Gill Covers
So, MALES are rough and bumpy, and
FEMALES are soft and smooth! Simple to remember.
Orandas with Pimples in Their Caps
Many hobbyists report the development of pimples in the head growth (wen) of their prized Orandas. The Orandas and other capped fishes will appear bright, alert, and feeding, yet these tufty whitish patches can appear, and they resemble pimples.
They are GENERALLY not a cause for concern.
For whatever, reason, the fishes’ white blood cells are attracted to the creases in the head growth, especially when it is rapdily developing. When the material is swabbed out and viewed microscopically, it is usually an aseptic collection of white cells.
Sometimes, the lesions can worsen, and the HALLMARK here is that the lesions become reddened. They may start to erode. When and if this happens, it MATTERS, and you are well advised to either inject the Goldfish with an antibiotic, or bathe it in several of the better bath antibiotics – two favorites of mine are Furazone Green, and Trimethoprim Sulfa.
Anytime you see white spots in the crevices of the Oranda’s wen or cap, it’s time to test your water quality, especially for nitrates. Also, increase aeration. It never hurts to do a partial water change, or institute a trickle system.
Orandas with White Spots in Their Wen
Trimethoprim Sulfa, available from your local Veterinarian, may be safely employed as a bath for bacterially infected fish. It has the advantages of being cheap, safe for the fish, safe for you to handle, and is well absorbed through the fishes gills an skin.
Use 960 mg powdered and dissolved per 10 gallons as a bath for 6-8 hours daily.
The effects on the filter bacteria are unknown (to me) which is why I recommend doing this in a warmed (75deg) hospital or remote system.
It is advised that you make up a fresh bath daily, using fish tank water if possible, as potency of the drug after 12-24 hours cannot be assured. Usually, 3-4 baths are required for cure. Injections are more effective but hardly as practical for the average hobbyist.
Furazone Green (Now all we have is Furan-2) is a potent mixture of powerful antibiotics with decent absorption by the fish, and reasonable tissue penetration. It’s success rate speaks for itself, and I feel that this water bath treatment is the best second-place to actual injection of antibiotics to the fish..
You would simply use the Furan-2 in a known/measured quantity of tank water with some aeration and support for temperature for 6-8 hours a day. Follow label instructions.
After an initial short-stumble, the filter will function normally through this medication in the water. You should be aware that UV radiation, either from the sun or from a sterilizer, will neutralize the active ingredients. The furans are also eventually carcinogenic, which is much more of a concern for folks who use the compounds daily, like retailers or wholesalers.
WAY MORE THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SWIMBLADDER DISEASE
By Vincent Ling
“Why does my goldfish tend to float at the surface of the water and have a hard time going to the bottom of the tank?”
Because it’s got swimbladder disease.
Swimbladder disease is a multifactorial illness which primarily affects ornamental goldfish which have globoid body shapes, like orandas, ryukins, and fantails. It most often presents as a fish which floats at the surface, or a fish which stays on the bottom and doesn’t seem to be able to easily rise. A fish which has normal buoyancy but is listing to one side or the other often does not have swimbladder disease, but may have other diseases.
In order to understand swim bladder disease, a cursory discussion of fish anatomy and physiology is necessary. The swim bladder is a small epithelium-lined sac in the anterior abdomen which is responsible for maintaining buoyancy. It has a close association with blood vessels such that gases can diffuse across into and out of the sac according to the needs of the fish. The sac inflates if the fish needs to be more buoyant, and it deflates if the fish needs to be less buoyant. Goldfish and some other fish have a special addition to this system called the pneumocystic duct, which is a connection between the swim bladder and the esophagus, allowing additional adjustment of buoyancy by letting air out through the digestive tract.
People have debated for years over the cause of swim bladder disease. It is pretty well established now that a number of things can cause swimbladder disease. Some of the things which have been suggested are:
1. A virus. The virus attacks the epithelium of the sac and inflammation occurs which makes the epithelium too thick for gases to diffuse across. Thus the fish is stuck at a certain buoyancy because gases have nowhere to go. This may be more of a factor in non-goldfish species.
2. A Bacterium. There is little evidence to support this, but it’s widely known that bacterial infections can cause the same kind of thickening of the swim bladder epithelium as viruses.
3. Anatomy. Globoid-shaped fish like ornamental goldfish are predisposed to problems with the swim bladder because their guts are all squashed up in their abdomen. This arrangement predisposes to food impactions, which in turn clog up (or kink) the pneumocystic duct.
4. Diet. Feeding dry foods which tend to take on water like a sponge and expand in the fish may predispose to food impactions.
See #3 above.
SO WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING?
1. As always, the golden rule of fish disease is WATER QUALITY. If swim bladder disease does have an infectious cause, your fish will be better able to resist this infection (and others) if your water quality is good. Periodic water changes and water testing are a must.
2.Pre-soak your flake or pelleted food. This will allow expansion to occur prior to the fish eating it, and will lessen the chance of impaction.
3.Even better, switch to a gel-based food or other food source, i.e. frozen or live food.
LET’S SAY I DIDN’T READ THIS IN TIME. WHAT CAN I DO TO TREAT IT?
(Note: Some of this stuff is pretty far out, but effective.)
1. Feed your fish a couple of peas. That’s right, peas. Just get some frozen peas, thaw them, and feed them to your fish. A professor of fish medicine at N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine has done this in several cases with very good results. He thinks that the peas somehow encourage destruction of the impaction. No hard scientific data yet, but it’s worth a try.
2. Periodic aspiration of the swim bladder (sometimes) works very well. Basically, you stick a needle in the swim bladder and suck out some of the air. Not something to be entered into lightly, but (sometimes) does work well. This is not a cure, but a successful treatment.
3. Fast your fish for a couple of days. Withhold all food for three or four days, and sometimes this alone will break up the impaction and return things to normal. Most fish can go a week to ten days without food and be just fine.
4. Partial pneumocystectomy. This is another word for surgical removal of part of the swimbladder. I mention this less as a practical option but more just to let people know that there are vets out there doing X-rays, surgery, general anesthesia, even cancer chemotherapy on fish.
But the best thing to do is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
The above, courtesy of Vincent Ling and his excellent site: Oranda
From Rick Copeland: Floating Goldfish Swimbladder Flipover Disease
I regularly exchange emails with Janet Breslin so I’ve been following the Eve saga pretty closely. Congratulations on another success! I thought I would send you some notes on what’s been working for me in terms of reducing swim bladder problems in goldfish to an almost non-existent event. I’ve listed these in order of significance in what I believe are factors determining my success.
1. Quality of fish. For over two years I have exclusively bought fish
from Rick Hess. I think his sources are the best. His recovery methods for when he receives the fish (a lot of your suggestions according to Rick) and his 30 day quarantine. Plus Rick’s shipping is top notch.
2. Water quality. In all of my tanks the nitrates are in the 5-10 ppm at
their highest (measured just before weekly water change). PH is from 7.2 to 7.6; ammonia and nitrite are always zero. Each tank receives a weekly 50-70% water change. To the consternation of most of my fellow goldfish keepkeepers I still use gravel and UG filters in most of my tanks. My thought on this is that it is the most stable and cheapest bio-filter around. My success with UG filters is due to weekly vacuuming of the gravel during water changes.
From Doc Johnson: I like Undergravel filters unless they’re neglected. There is no better way to avoid anaerobic spots in the gravel and it makes great filtration. ELJ Running new water all the time is also superb for water quality and keeps sponge and UG filters in top notch shape by reducing DOC’s and background pollution. (2019)
3. Diet. I feed my fish once a day. Usually fast them one day a week.
Also, I try not to feed pelleted food two days in a row. The pelleted food I feed is Sho Gold; no presoaking. I alternate Sho Gold with frozen peas and cooked shrimp. When I run out of things to do I’ll start researching different home made recipes.
So in a nutshell I think the best treatment for swim bladder is preventing it. I still have the occasional problem fish. Right now I have a Japanese Ranchu that when he’s with other fish (Ranchus) he is such a hog he always floats for 8 hours after feeding from over eating. Kept by himself where I can control the amount of food he does fine.
Just some thoughts. They pretty much coincide with what you’ve published on the subject…
Floating Goldfish Swimbladder Flipover Disease
Note From Doc Johnson
“Some of the above information is not exactly correct. While it’s true that floating foods will worsen a flipover or floater, the floating pellets do not actually cause it.” Doc Johnson (2019)
“Do not under-estimate Krill or Freeze Dried Krill as a great food source or treat for your Koi and Goldfish.” Doc Johnson
- Carp Pox and certain cancers cannot be differentiated by pathologists in every case.
- Carp Pox occurs in warm water [Georgia summers] with regularity, so it could be stated that warm water is a cure in some cases.
This fish came to me with Carp Pox and a horrible case of flukes. Fortunately there were no open sores, fin, tail or mouth rot that is commonly associated with the flukes.
Note the Carp Pox on the body. It shows as “pinkish” colored spots.
The fish came out of a cold pond that had a temperature of 55 degrees. The method of treatment was to warm the water up to 80 degrees. I have found that in treatment of other fish with Carp Pox that heat alone will cure it very nicely.
The hospital tank was set up and salt added to bring it to 0.3% salinity, which is always, my first step in treating any fish. A heater was added to the 25-gallon tank and set at 80 degrees. I then added 3 fluke tabs (PraziPro nowadays) that were pre-dissolved to the tank.
The above picture was taken just 4 days later. You can see the difference that just 4 days of heat made. By the end of 7 days the fish was completely healed of Carp Pox and no visible signs were left on the body. Also by the end of 7 days all fluke were gone after 2 treatments.
The major difference is that this fish had the pox all over its body. You can see how the spots look small and “pinkish” in color.
Carp Pox and Flukes Resolved With Heat and Salt
Also, Koi Salting is discussed in the following video.
AEROMONAS KOI ULCER PICTURES WITH STEP BY STEP HEALING
Code and Graphics edited Dr. Erik Johnson
Day one: The Koi had 5 large ulcers, 2 one side of the tail and the other 2 were on the opposite side of the tail. In addition there were 9 small ulcers that were approximately 1/4″across on the other side of the tail. The 5th ulcer completely took out the pectoral fin. Fluke tabs (Now we use Prazi) and salt to .3 was added the first day. I really did not think this fish would live through the night. I expected that he would pine cone at any time.
Day 3: The ulcer that took out the pectoral fin and socket is now visible. There is now slight healing tanking place in all of the ulcers.
Day12: These are pictures of 6 of 9 smaller ulcers. The koi is making good progress now.
Day 12: The koi is improving greatly now and appears that the antibiotic regime is working.
Day 21: Progress was still being made and recorded on the 21st day. This was the last picture I had taken. Unfortunately, the koi died on the 31stday. All of the 9 smaller ulcers had completely healed. The 5 large ones were approximately 80 percent healed. Autopsy did not reveal anything remarkable.
AEROMONAS KOI ULCER PICTURES WITH STEP BY STEP HEALING
Fish With White Eye
White-eye is often a Flexobacterial infection. Injections are curative. In other cases, a fish will have traumatized the eye in some way and the lesion is corneal edema. In these cases, injections of antibiotics will be harmless, but only time resolves this lesion, Finally, White-eye may be the result of caustic trauma. It’s not rare to see a group of fish that were overdosed with Formalin or burned by Ammonia to develop white-eye. Again, some Stress coat, salt and an injection never hurt these fish.
Fish’ll flash and scratch when they have Flukes, Trichodina, almost any parasitism can cause fish to flash or scratch on things. One problem is that the parasites damage the skin, opening it to infection. The other problem is that the fish damage their own skin when they flash, so you need to get them to stop.
Another important consideration is that changes in water quality can cause flashing. A large freshwater change can cause flashing as the fishes’ skin adapts to a slightly higher or lower pH. Residual chlorine or other metals in new water can cause flashing. Using a dechlorinator alleviates a lot of this. Fish brought to shows can flash like crazy. The new water in a show tank can really irritate the fish, causing flashing. Still, you have to keep in mind that a parasite could potentially be causing the flashing and caution and quarantine would be a great idea.
Finally, black plastic water lines which contain large amounts of UV stabilizers and elasticizers can set up an irritation sufficient to cause excessive flashing. Never use a novel plastic with your fish. Always use things which you know won’t hurt fish.
Fish Wasting Away
Many of the fish which “waste away” are often burdened by flukes. In the absence of any other stressor, like bad water, fish can carry flukes handsomely without explosive losses, but they slowly lose body condition as they bleed to death through their gills. Especially commonly seen among smaller fishes of the one-year class, larger fish that waste away may have some other internal pathology. Wasting can also be caused by tuberculosis of the liver, other liver pathology, or crappy corn-based diets. Better diet is indicated here.
Jumping behavior suggests the fish have a problem with parasites, or their water. You’ll see fish jumping when the pH is dropping, or when some other irritant is accumulating in the water, like Ammonia. So, the first things you do are water tests. Then, if nothing is found, please consider that parasitisms, particularly with Flukes can cause jumping. We assume that the hope is that jumping will dislodge the parasites. Instead, it often leads to a fatal “flop-fest” on the ground. So, establish water quality first and then treat for parasites. I’d recommend salt as a good first choice, or maybe the potassium regimen listed in the book.
Fish With Split Fin
Split fins can often indicate Flukes. It’s true. When I see a collection in which the tails are notched, and the pectorals are split, I consider it imperative to get a scope study done on the fish. You’ll often find flukes. To repair a split pectoral fin, you anesthetize the fish and suture the fin back together with a fine 3-0 or finer suture, by weaving the suture through the rays of the fin and eventually closing the gap. The suture breaks down in a week under water and the fin is as good as new.
Black Spots Appearing on Fish
Some little black spots are often called Shimi. This is an unfortunate genetic defect in some fish wherein a Kohaku gets some little black dots and they’re suddenly a worthless Sanke. There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests the condition may be common in water with high turnover or exposure to caustic irritants like Chlorine. Case in point: Shimi is rarely noted in natural greenwater ponds but is common in crowded manipulated reuse systems.
Another type of blackening is a generalized type wherein the fins and body may develop a blackening change from chronic or caustic trauma. Case in Point: Fish are badly ammonia burned by a filtration failure or inadequacy —> A week later, after water quality is restored, the fish develop blackened areas, called a Melanophore Migration. Severe parasitisms can later cause blackening as the skin starts to heal. The blackening is not permanent, but may remain for two to four weeks before subsiding.
Hydrogen Sulfide (discussed here), Eldrin, organophosphate poisoning, copper poisoning. The cause of rolling, torpedo, fearlessness is usually a poison that causes a neurological disorder like rolling and spiral swimming. You’d do well to do a massive (50+ %) water change with a chloramine-and-heavy-metal binding neutralizer like Prime® or Detox.
Fish Gills Swollen Open
Almost always a fluke infestation. Some rare exceptions would be bacterial gill disease, and the two conditions are often super-imposed. Bacterial gill disease is recognizable grossly in moribund specimens because the gills are basically red looking with patches of rotten tissue. Sometimes, more subtly, there will be streaks through the gill tissue, *NOT* around the arch. If you see signs referable to Bacterial Gill Disease you owe it to yourself to inject all other exposed fish or treat with nothing but Chloramine-T for two hours or so.
Flared gills in a DEAD fish often speaks to a nitrite poisoning. A quick check of water quality, even with a dip-type test strip, will reveal this kind of loss. If fish are dying from nitrites, simply salt the tank to a mere 0.1% and Bioseed as soon as possible.
Fish Head Down, Tail at surface
This is often a symptom of a bacterial infection – but has been seen in any pathology of the gills, including Koi Herpes Virus. Check your water, observe all points at FIRSTAID and make SURE you get some injections on board as soon as possible. You will lose the head-down fish within a week to ten days and then other will die if you do not intercept the parasites which may have precipitated this, and intercept the bacterial invasion going on inside. INJECT, Inject, Inject!
Fish Head Up, hanging just under surface lethargically
If the fish are hovering lethargically with heads at the surface, not gasping, just hanging – – Check your pH at once. This can be a symptom of pH crash leading into acidosis. Very often, the pH is falling and the fish will hang under the water surface, then start getting a milky skin. It never hurts to follow up with an examination of gill tissue both grossly, and microscopically. Also, exhaust all possibilities as far as water testing, and you should give consideration to the helpful first aid pages at this site.
Fish Laying Over
“Layover” or “Sleeping Sickness” is usually a bacterial infection in Koi that is brought about by parasites chewing on the gills or skin. In other instances, it is only a result of severe stress, such as bitter cold or chlorine exposure – The most commonly found parasites are Chilodonella, Costia and or Trichodina.
You have to evaluate for all potential sources of the stress, and correct them. I recommend salting to 0.3% and then if possible, injecting the fish to offset any infection which may be in the system. Several medications are also available. A favorite is BSDT
Koi Mouth wide open – Can’t close it.
Three out of four times these fish will have an acorn, rock, stone, tiny pinecone or other foreign body in the mouth. If you’re gentle, you can push the stone forward and out of the mouth through an access way under the gill cover. The fish would do a little better under anesthesia. Oil of Cloves can be recommended. The other cases of “Open Mouth” are usually an ulcer or sore on the roof of the mouth. You carefully swab these with hydrogen peroxide, making sure no excess peroxide gets on the gills and inject the fish intraperitoneally with Baytril or any of the other medicines listed and demonstrated in the book.
That’s almost always an advancing fluke infestation; but you owe it to yourself, and that fish to do the following two things:
(1) Net the fish, and do an oral exam of mouth, roof of mouth looking for Ulcer, gills, looking for swelling, paleness, streaks of white around the edge of the gill or through the gill tissue, or any kind of foreign body like a piece of pine straw intertwined in the arches or a stone in the mouth.
(2) Gill scrape with a cover slip and examine microscopically for Flukes.