Goldfish and Aquarium Board Articles
Buoyancy Cases with X-Rays


Janet's Gock

Summary: At about 2 1/2 years of age, Gock started to flip over occasionally. When he saw me come into the room, he'd flip back upright again. Then about a month ago, he started to get stuck upside down for a few minutes at a time. Then just days later he absolutely could not turn back upright again. He was so buoyant, his belly is raised out of the water. His belly & bottom fins were very irritated. Aspiration of the swim bladder was used to make him more comfortable until his surgery. Most of his caudal swim bladder lobe was removed and we're waiting to see if his swim bladder reinflates.

Lateral x-ray. The cranial lobe is HUGE. There is gas in his belly. It's hard to tell if one of the smaller air bubbles is his caudal lobe or not.

Dorso-ventral x-ray. The cranial lobe is HUGE.

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FG360's Wonton

Summary: Wonton is a fantail goldfish. I've had him about 2 years, and he was about 1-1 and a half inches long (minus tail) when I got him. He's started floating on the surface of the tank most of the time, starting about 3 days ago (Oct 12, 2007). He can still stay upright while swimming, but when he stops he seems to go into a nose stand, then eventually flips upsideown. He also appears to have lost weight, and has redness around the base of his fins. Other then that, he appears normal.
Video of Wonton swimming

Lateral x-ray before aspiration. The caudal lobe is overinflated.

Dorso-ventral x-ray before aspiration. The cranial lobe appears to be somewhat displaced laterally. The Caudal lobe looks centered.

Lateral x-ray after aspiration of 5ml of air.

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Annette's Jasmine and Clementine thread

Summary: Clementine, has a has always slept upside down inside his cave, (Annette drilled holes in the top). He hasn't grown as much as the 3 other fantails that arrived when he did. He has white bumps on his fins. He swims in spirals up to the top and down to the bottom.
Tomorrow I have an appointment for Clementine, the swimming in spirals, sleeps upside down in her cave, internal bumps in her fins, smaller than the other 3 that came with her, goldie

Clementine's x-rays
Before swim bladder aspiration. Clementine's caudal lobe is large and displaced laterally.

After swim bladder aspiration

January 2007
You can see from the lateral view that there is just no room for the posterior lobe. The darker area above the swim bladder lobes is all muscle. See how it curves downwards to the bottom of her caudal peduncle near where her vent would be.
in the second x-ray, the light area running from the base of her head to the base of her tail are the muscles along the top of the fish. Again, I can't see any detail inside her belly. Since there's no room for the caudal lobe to expand caudally, it's possible given the caudal lobe is so over inflated, that there was just less resistance on that side for it to expand where it could.


Jasmine my previous floating upside down goldie, tonight late is floating upside down again, worse.
Jasmine's cranial lobe looks too large given her size. It also looks like Jasmine's caudal lobe is displaced laterially. There may also be air in her belly (darkarea in the lower left x-ray).

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Marilynn's Pluto thread

Summary: Pluto is upside down and not eating.

Pluto 5/31/2007

Lateral x-ray

Dorso-ventral x-ray

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Marilynn's Venus thread

Summary: Venus was completely upside down and struggling to stay off the surface.

Video of Venus

Lateral x-ray. The caudal lobe is small and there is gas in her intestines.

Dorso-ventral x-ray

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Marilynn's Panda thread

Summary: Panda has had some buoyancy problems for about ten days now. When the usual solutions failed to work he had a visit with Dr. Roberts.

Lateral x-ray. The caudal lobe appears underinflated and it looks like there is gas in the intestines.

Dorso-ventral x-ray

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Jo's Dessert

Summary: Jo adopted Dessert and she turned out to have a mass in her belly.

Lateral x-ray. The cranial and caudal lobe appear to be large. The white round area below the caudal lobe in the right x-ray may be the mass.

Dorso-ventral x-ray. The caudal lobe is displaced to the left side.

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Jo's Raven

Summary: Raven had problems with head standing and then later being stuck at the top of the tank.

Lateral x-ray shows only the cranial lobe which appears to be somewhat over inflated.

Video of Raven.

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Robyn's Randi thread

Summary: Randi reacted negatively to my negligence to change the water for over 2 weeks (nitrates became very high). He started losing his balance and eventually ended up floating upside down, not able to right himself, and soon after developed sepsis. I found a vet in my area (Ronit Lavie, DVM, at Conejo Valley Veterinary Clinic in Thousand Oaks, CA.) who loves fish and is very knowledgeable about them.

She treated Randi with Baytril antibiotic IM every 3 days to get rid of the sepsis and bacterial infection (his belly was almost completely red and he smelled like a dying fish). An x-ray showed that his swim bladder was very enlarged and flipped, but that there were no internal tumors or masses.

To help with the swim bladdter issue, she suggested using acetazolamide (0.03 mL of a 5 mg/mL dose every 5 days, IM), which is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor and its mechanism in fish is based on the Henderson-Hasselbach equation (pH and acid/base equilibrium). In humans, it's used to decrease fluid formation in glaucoma patients and is sometimes given for mountain sickness. She had treated two other fish patients of hers, and it worked on them.

While the acetazolamide was on order, Randi became very bloated (looked like dropsy, but wasn't), so she drained him of what was fortunately all air - the day she drained him was fortunately the same day the acetazolamide came in. Randi immediately became a sinker, lying on his side on the bottom of his hospital tank, not able to right himself.

A couple of days after the first injection of acetazolamide, Randi started to right himself. After 2 injections, he's able to swim up and across but he still scoots on the bottom - upright at least. I gave him his 3rd injection today, and anticipate he'll be able to go back into the big tank in a couple of weeks.

He has no swelling now, his bacterial infection is completely gone, he is an eating and pooping machine, and he's gained all his strength back now that he can use his pectoral and tail fins again when he swims up and across.

We also had to treat Randi with metronidizol (5 mg) because of latent parasite cysts in his feces. I put him in a metro bath every 3 days for 3 hours, and it got rid of the cysts. His feces is completely normal now.

15 Nov 2007: He was swimming around more and not sitting on the bottom but was actually floating just off the tank surface like a normal fish. This afternoon, he started going vertical on the bottom, face down and tail up, would right himself, but now it's developed into belly up again - he rights himself on occasion and will swim around, but he's at the top most of the time. He got his 5th acetazolamide injection today. Water parameters are normal, nitrates are at 10ppm as of late this evening.

17 Nov 2007: vet aspirated 3.5-4 cc air from the swim bladder. he's a sinker again.

Randi upside down

After aspiration and acetazolamide

Lateral x-ray shows an enlarged cranial lobe. The caudal lobe is small and displaced ventrally.

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PidgePidge's Wendy threads: Vet Visit and Initial thread

Summary: Right around the time she turned 2, Wendy started having some buoyancy problems--floating and flipping. Her water conditions weren't perfect (some nitrite in the water, some ammonia) so we got that fixed, but within a couple of weeks she was permanently flipped and floating at the top.

A couple of weeks into the problem, she developed a growth on her abdomen. It wasn't very noticeable at first, but over the course of about 8 weeks became very large. It never stabilised and was continuing to enlarge every day when I took her to the aquatic vet yesterday. See the photos from the link below--the protrusion was disturbingly large.

Due to her floating, irritation of the skin on her belly became a problem. We set up her net so that she could position herself underneath it (though at the surface) which helped keep the skin moist, but it was still getting progressively more red. There is a previous post addressing these problems, and other members' alternate solutions (Mz Mo's mesh 'ceiling' in her tank, vaseline). The size of the growth was also starting to strain her skin, and it was beginning to get 'weepy', leaving a little bit of puss-like material on the net where she positioned herself.

I found an aquatic vet in London, who also does research specifically into buoyancy issues. On initial inspection he said he couldn't be sure what the protrusion was. When I had described it on the phone he had thought it might be some sort of wart or skin tag, but agreed with me upon seeing her that it was an internal problem. He said it could be the swim bladder, but given the size it was also quite possibly a tumor.

I went back to the waiting room. He took an Xray, and discovered that the protrusion was indeed the back lobe of her swim bladder (see photo of the Xray in the album, linked to below). He gave Wendy anasthesia (by putting it in her water) which made her unconscious for 4 minutes. With a syringe he removed--I think it was .5 mls of gas from the bladder. After a second Xray he still wasn't satisfied with the size of the bladder, so he removed another .5 mls. See the 'after' Xrays. I was called back into the exam room.

I was surprised but pleased to see Wendy without the awful protrusion. Now her belly is actually concave (see photos). Wendy is now sunk to the bottom, still upside down. I will take the gravel out of her tank if the skin on her begins to rub on the gravel. You can right her and she can swim about momentarily, but does eventually roll back over. She is fairly lethargic still, but continues to have an appetite (we hand feed her). The vet also said that my salt levels were too high so I have reduced the amount given to her.

For ten days I am to put Wendy in her hospital tank with water treated with antibiotics, for 5 hours each day. She is on baytril (.3 mls in 6 litres, 5 hours per day for ten days).

The vet was very guarded regarding her prognosis. He said the swim bladder may well refill, and if so over the course of 1-2 weeks. There is also of course the risk of infection, or that she may now continue to have the opposite problem (sinking). I am to contact him again in 2 weeks.

Wendy upside down

Being sedated for x-rays

X-rays show both swimbladder lobes are enlarged. The cranial lobe is displaced slightly to the left and the caudal lobe is displaced almost totally to the right of the spine.

After the first aspiration

After the second aspiration

After aspiration, upside down on the bottom of the tank.

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