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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11548
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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Our purple parrot fishs belly is very distended and she has been

Resolved Question:

Our purple parrot fish's belly is very distended and she has been floating upside down for about 3 weeks. Do you think she is pregnant and how can we feed her? We are maticulous about water quality. Her tank mate seems to be very healthy. Thank you.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

I apologize that no one has responded to your question earlier. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online and saw your question. If you still need help, some additional information will be useful.

When you tested the water, what were the exact numbers you got for ammonia and nitrites?

Are any of the fish's scales sticking up?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The amonia ia zero.

KH is 18ppm

Neither ther healthy or fish in question have scales sticking up.

Thank you.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. Parrot fish don't get pregnant. When they're ready to lay eggs, the stomach doesn't expand, they simply release the eggs through the appropriate tube.

If the scales had been sticking up, we may have been looking at dropsy. Since they aren't, that leaves your first suspicion, swim bladder disease, as a prime suspect. You have already tried peas and Epsom salts, with no results. Swim bladder disease can have a number of causes, so what works in one case may not work in another. In severe cases, it's possible that nothing at all will help.

There are a couple more things you can try. Some fish keepers have gotten success by placing the affected fish in an isolation tank with shallow water. The fish may find it easier to swim if the water is not as deep, and that can be the first step to recovery.

Some cases of swim bladder disease are caused by a bacterial infection. You can treat the water in the isolation tank with MelaFix, which is available in larger pet stores.

There is a method that uses a needle to relieve the fish's distress. It is generally used only by aquatic vets. If you'd like to try to find a fish vet, scroll down on the following page, and you'll find listings for fish vets:

Here's another directory:

While it won't hurt to treat the fish for swim bladder disease, there is always the possibility that something else is occurring. For example, a tumor somewhere in the abdomen could be causing the problem. Some tumors can be removed surgically, but for others, there is no treatment at all. Heart or kidney failure can also cause swelling. Again, there is no treatment that will be effective with these ailments.

I would go ahead and try the shallow-water isolation tank and the Melafix. To feed the fish, you'll probably need to hold food right in front of her mouth. If you don't get any results in a few days, it may be time to make the difficult decision to humanely end her suffering. If you want to know the best way, let me know (there's no additional fee for follow-up questions). I hope it won't come to that, and that your fish will reach a full recovery.


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