Helpful Info on Blood Parrots and swim bladder
Since becoming the proud owner of 3 blood parrots I’ve learned a lot about this amazing, personable fish – including the fact the BP’s are subject to swim bladder issues. I’ve discovered this first hand as 1 of my trio occasionally hangs upside down in a top corner of the tank – a certain indication that there may be a problem with the swim bladder. When I see this happen on and off for two days in a row, I get a little concerned. I thought that compiling 'what I've learned' about avoiding and treating swim bladder in blood parrots might be useful to anyone else who owns. So here goes. Hope it helps.
What is swim bladder? Most likely, it’s an impaction with food, which in turn clogs up the pneumocystic duct, which does not allow the swim bladder to inflate and deflate properly. Fish that lay or swim upside down are said to have "Flipover". Usually, the abdomen is swollen when a fish is constipated. Also, fish that gulp air at the water's surface when feeding can have swim bladder problems.
Overfeeding/constipation is the most common cause of SBD. Injury is also a potential cause. Rarely, viral or bacterial infection can cause SWD. If you are dealing with an infection, however, the best choice for internal infections is Furanace but requires a prescription. An alternative: is tetracycline, Maracyn TC is one brand.
Okay ... baring infection or injury, you can potentially avoid a swim bladder issue from ever developing by doing as follows:
First and always – keep a clean tank and make weekly 50% W/C’s to insure good water quality
Do not over feed - they are NEVER as hungry as they think they are. In fact, it’s a good practice to fast them one day a week. It’s good for your entire tank.
Do not feed flake food that floats on the surface of the water. BP's are such greedy eaters that they will swallow air when ingesting floating flakes and could bring on a swim bladder episode. If you're feeding flakes, simply pinch them between your fingers and release under water so the flakes float down instead of linger on top. You could also pre-soak flake or pellet food (in conditioned water), as this will allow expansion of the dried food to occur prior to the fish eating it, and will lessen the chance of impaction.
BP’s are omnivorous. Feed them live, frozen, and freeze dried foods (they LOVE frozen brine shrimp or frozen bloodworms) as well as veggies. Small sinking cichlid pellets are easier for them to eat than floating foods. (side note: Foods high in b-carotene and canthaxanthin will help maintain their vibrant colors.)
I suggest mixing it up - feed shrimp or frozen blood worms once or twice a week, small (because they have tiny mouths) sinking cichlid pellets on other days + the occasional flake food. Do NOT feed floating pellets – for the same reason you don't want floating flakes. The pellets swell up in the water then in their tummies and put pressure on the bladder and could cause a problem.
Have a veggie day 1 day a week. Especially feed them peas (nuke them for 30 secs, let them cool, then pop off the shells). The peas will be a little mushy (or not) but they will sink. BP's love them and it keeps their digestive tract cleaned out. Again - it's good for all fish in your tank.
If, however, you practice these preventative measures and your BP still gets swim bladder, the first treatment option is to withhold feeding for 24-72 hours or longer, and see if the constipation corrects itself.
If an extended fast doesn’t help, an Epsom salt bath may help draw out excess fluid in his body. Use a fish-safe container big enough for him to rest and move around in comfortably as his 'bath-tub'. Typically the dosage rate for Epsom salt baths is 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. Make sure the water temp is the same as his tank's water (or just use some of the tank's water as long as its fairly clean) and leave him in the soak for 15 minutes. Afterward, carefully move him back into his main aquarium. It may take a few repeated sessions of these baths to help and is not a guaranteed cure but has proven to be beneficial in many cases.
Hopefully, you'll never have to deal with swim bladder disease with your Blood Parrots but if you do, I’m hoping this information is helpful. Thanks to everyone on the forum who has answered my questions about Blood Parrots and potential swim bladder disease.
And if anyone else out there has additions (or corrections) I am eager to hear them. There are many far more experienced than me in this area but I'm hoping that having this information compiled in once place will be helpful to all. We all want what’s best for our little fishies.
Last edited by fishmommie; 10-29-2012 at 04:03 PM.