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Thread: Protruding / Flared Gills

  1. #1
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    Default Protruding / Flared Gills

    Hey All! Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. It's a problem I've not encountered before. These are discus I got from Al as babies, so they are very important to me given the time and work I've invested. Not to mention how difficult they'd be to replace. Thank you!

    1. Problem :
    One of my discus has a gill that is flaring far outside the normal range of motion. The issue is primarily on just one side. 4 other discus have no sign of the issue, while 1 other might, but it's so slight on that one I might be imagining it there. The affected fish is not breathing rapidly, but the expansive gill does give the appearance of labored breathing. The gill filaments are also protruding to a concerning degree. I can see gill filaments in my other fish when they breath if I look close enough, so I think that's normal, but on this one they are really sticking out. And maybe it's not even normal to see filaments at all? I noticed the issue three days ago.

    The fish seems completely healthy in all other respects : active swimmer, not at all shy, eats and grows like a weed, great coloration, normal feces, etc. He does not hide in corners or gasp for air near the surface, and there isn't any noticeable bullying in the tank. Two recent changes to the environment : added a water softener for the whole house 3 weeks ago, and dropped in a new fake plant 1-2 weeks ago. The plant was rinsed fairly thoroughly before put in. After installing the water softener, all my fish (including a separate tank of discus) actually seemed to get happier.

    2. Symptoms: Flared gill, extended filaments. Further details above.

    3. Treatments already attempted : none

    4. Tank : 75g, bare bottom, 6 discus around 4.5", large sponge filter, two pieces of driftwood and two fake plants. Moved them from a 40B about 2 months ago to the 75g. All fish, filtration, and decor moved together. I.e. nothing new was mixed, just moved to a bigger tank. one exception being the 2nd fake plant added a couple weeks ago.

    5. Water change regime : 75% every other day. Back when they were in the 40g B it was 75-85% every day.

    6. How long has tank been running? Is it bare bottom? : 75g running 2 months, before that everything was the same but in a 40g B that had been running for almost a year.

    7. Water Aging : Water is aged for 24 hours with an airstone. PH comes out of tap 8-8.2, settles 7.8-8.0.

    8. Water Conditioner : Seachem Safe, 1/8 teaspoon, mixed into the tank at the start of pumping in the aged water.

    9. Parameters and water source :

    - temp 82.5

    - ph 7.8-8.0

    - ammonia reading 0

    - nitrite reading 0

    - nitrate reading ~5, can be hard to get a precise reading

    - municipal tap water, on a water softener, aged & aerated 24 hours

    10. New Fish or Plants:
    No new fish or other living things, no new organic decorations such as driftwood. I did add a fake plant after rinsing it.

    11. Feeding : morning = sera discus granules, afternoon = auto feed hikari vibra bites, evening = switch between FDBW and beefheart/seafood mix
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Protruding / Flared Gills

    This is generally due to a long standing fluke infestation. Treat with Formalin, or PraziPro. Once the gills get that bad you can cure the infestation but the gill will not go back to normal. Even though just the one fish is showing symptoms I would treat them all.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: Protruding / Flared Gills

    Quote Originally Posted by LizStreithorst View Post
    This is generally due to a long standing fluke infestation. Treat with Formalin, or PraziPro. Once the gills get that bad you can cure the infestation but the gill will not go back to normal. Even though just the one fish is showing symptoms I would treat them all.
    Thanks Liz! I have PrazPro on hand so I can start that. A few follow-up questions :
    - Would it be beneficial to also treat with salt, concurrently?
    - I've never noticed anything that would indicate flukes. e.g. flashing or signs of irritation. Would that change your thoughts on the situation?
    - If you still think it's flukes, do you have any suggestion how I might prevent it in the future? Given there were no signs until it was too bad to reverse...

    Thanks!

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    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Protruding / Flared Gills

    It could be a deformity of the gill plate. It's hard for me to tell by the pics.

    If it is flukes, I'd have thought that you would see some flashing. As far as prevention, you can't. They are always in a Discus tank even in low numbers. The best you can do but feed will and give them plenty of fresh water, which you are already doing.
    Mama Bear

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    Registered Member bluelagoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Protruding / Flared Gills

    A lot of folks with discus will by-pass the water softener and use regular tap water. Reason is softeners usually need rechanging with sodium chloride (salt)or potassium chloride. I would think they would be better off in magnesium or calcium rather than salt. SA Amazonian cichlids in general do not like salt. Ok for treatments for a couple of weeks but not long term.

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    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Protruding / Flared Gills

    I didn't notice the water softener part. Thanks Mervin, you are correct.
    Mama Bear

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