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whats this? Dr. Fenner, Your book is great. I would like your input on a problem with one of my freshwater angelfish. I bought it 2 years ago and since then it has developed a big ball on it's lower lip. The other angelfish that i bought at the same place and time has not developed a ball on it's lip. The fish in question appears healthy but has some alarming growth characteristics. The fish is now dwarfed by the other angelfish that i bought. I thought that this was odd. They were the same brood and figured that they would grow about the same rate. I watched the fish when they fed and realized that the ball was so big that the poor angelfish couldn't eat effectively. I figure that is the reason for the difference in growth. The ball has been slowly groing for about a year and a half. I thought that the ball might be full of fluid but after observing the fish I think that it is not fluid and really cartilige. The ball comes straight off of the end of the fish's mouth. The ball is nearly round but is by no way uniformly round. The fish is somewhat listless but seems healthy. No other fish show any signs of growing lips. Please think this one over. Bubba wants to be able to eat and grow too. thx eric <Hmm, good description of a tumorous growth... and likely not "catching" though debilitating as you describe. You could try removing this matter with a sharp tool (likely a single-edged razorblade) and a deft hand (netting the fish out and quickly excising the tumor) without anesthetic, possibly daubing it with a topical (a mercuric compound and cotton swab)... or, another possibility might be to euthanize this specimen. If it wasn't apparently suffering I might opt for leaving it be, if you think it might help: the surgery, if indeed the specimen seems doomed, to humanely put it under by slowly freezing it. Bob Fenner>

whats this? pet-fish surgery Egads!!!!!!!! I had joked about he surgical option just last night. It seems that it is less of a joke and more of a reality. I will excise the poor fish's lip and nurse it in the hospital tank where he wont be bugged by the other angels. I think that i will have to remove the majority of it's lower lip as i am currently unable to even define where it's normal "lip-line" should be. If ths thing bleeds alot Would there be any benifit to cauterizing. thx for the prompt reply eric <Do wipe the mercurochrome, merthiolate, merbromin (just like mom used to apply on our "ow-ees") right on the spot should you effect the surgery... This will likely prevent bleeding (a very real concern... due to fish packed-cell volume, low dissolved oxygen in water...) and this should do about as much good as you can. Good luck Doctor. Bob Fenner>

Wrasse w/tumor? I have a blue headed wrasse that about 4 days ago it looked as if his lung was coming out thru his gill on 1 side. He doesn't seem to be in any distress. But this thing is very disturbing looking. My cleaner wrasse picks at it constantly and now it looks like it has open sores. Can you tell me what this is? And what are the consequences from this cyst like thing? I have had him for over 1 yr, and in the last month I have only added some live rock.Could this have caused it? And is there any hope in it going away? >> There is always hope... this is likely some sort of tumor... and the live rock has very little to nothing to do with its appearance... and there is not much more to do than wait, hope for spontaneous remission.' Bob Fenner

Re: Wrasse w/tumor? thank you bob for such a quick reply. unfortunately this is what i was afraid of.but i will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.as this is a very personable fish.thanks again and i am sure to be back. vicki,fish freak >> >> Good luck my friend, Bob Fenner

Narcotizing Fish Wow! What an idea that may be quite useful to many people. Please expand on the use of soda water to narcotize fish. Oh, if only it did that to humans. Well, thanks for your time and what a wonderful service your column and ffexpress provide. I have ordered more than once based (partly based on the presence of your column). Thanks again, Mike (or you can sign me the sedative sadist or perhaps morphine Mike? How about the old standby, Prince Valium?) >> Yes, carbon dioxide in sufficient concentration in water acts as a fish anesthetic... Have used even Alka-Seltzer (tm) for the purpose... Only to be done with you standing "RIGHT THERE"... as fishes can be over-narcotized with enough exposure. Bob Fenner

Please Help Bob, I hope you can help me with a problem I'm having. I have an emperor angel who is in distress. He's developed a growth that looks like it might be lympho., which he's had before. The problem is that this time it's on his mouth, and it looks like it's keeping him from eating. He'll come out and lazily swim through the food when it's in the water, but I don't see him eat anything, and he's looking thinner. Every other fish in the tank seems to be fine (naso, sohal, purple, desjardin, scopas, and three yellow tangs, foxface, sargent major, various small damsels, and a couple of worm gobies). My system is 150 gallon, FOWLR (about 120 lbs.), and testing reads zero for ammonia and nitrites. I change about 30 gal. every week, and use carbon for a couple of days every two weeks. Any suggestions on what I can do to save this fish? He's been with me for a while, and I'd hate to see him go. Thanks, Tracy >> It is very important (to me, you, the specimen) that you understand what I'm about to state... completely. If it were me, mine, I would endeavor to save it by trimming away the mouth growth. This can be a relatively easy procedure to a stressful (for everyone) exercise in frustration.  Do consider the following two scenarios: Narcotizing the animal with "soda water", "Hypno" (an archaic, though useful anesthetic/shipping product), OR, just gently as possible catching (in a net), and holding in a damp/wet towel (low light, as short a time as possible) the fish to slice (with a scalpel or single edge razor blade) the growth away...  Often, this procedure results in remission due to??? who can say? The lymph/virus-oid is recognized for what it is and the animals immune system kicks in, kicks it out...  Confused by this message, the situation? Please help me make things more clear than. Do get some help holding the fish... and if you're going to do this operation, make it soon. Bob Fenner, who hopes he is not shocking anyone... this is a standard operating procedure... used on valuable animals (broodstock, expensive ornamentals)...

Re: Please Help Bob, Thanks for your advice re the surgery. I've been studying the angel, trying to figure out how to preform the operation. I don't know how I'm going to distinguish where the lip stops, and the unwanted material begins. I'm wondering if my initial diagnosis is flawed. The area in question looks more like an open sore, more of like a cold sore than a large ball-like growth. Could this be something other than lymphocystis?  <Easily. A tumor of some sort, even parasitic... The only way I know to ascertain what the matter is is to do a biopsy... or necropsy... examine a bit of the matter under a scope... possibly do some culture work...> If so, can you recommend a treatment?  <An antimicrobial might be helpful/efficacious... the least intrusive method of application is to introduce the material in the animals food... if it is still feeding. You can soak/apply the quessed-at compound (kanamycin, oxytetracycline...) to food "shake and bake" style... Alternatively, netting, moving the animal to a concentrated bath (probably utilizing nitrofuran compound(s) in this scenario)... and most high-handedly, having a veterinarian, experienced friend aid you in injecting (intramuscularly) with an appropriate antibiotic (chloramphenicol succinate, if you/they can get it...) in a gauged dose.... I would call a vet, a friend who has a vet, and in turn ask them if they know of a vet in the area who "does" ornamental aquatics> If you still think it is lymphocystis, I'll go ahead and try the cutting, but I'd like to be sure before I stress the fish out like that. As always, I appreciate the help. Thanks, Tracy <If you are going ahead with the surgery, do additionally (while you have the animal out, traumatized otherwise) utilize the dip/bath as well... or injection or antibiotic> Bob Fenner, who apologizes in turn, if this discussion seems too complex/involved... and it may well prove entirely unnecessary... like virally-mediated "events" in our species (e.g. Planter's warts...) these "problems" do "just" resolve themselves... surprisingly often. "When, where in doubt, wait it out"...

Emperor with Tumor Bob, I am the guy that wrote to you recently on the Emperor with the mouth tumor  (9" Red Sea, on Oxytetracycline food), subsequent to your recent Q&A covering  the very same subject. I dared accept the challange. My son and I caught him, placed him in a five  gallon bucket with aquarium water, prepared "Dip Away" solution, and cleaned  several small utensils such as tweezers, knives, etc with alcohol. My son  held him as I plucked slowly the tumor in mulitple pieces. We dipped him in  the Dip Away solution and placed him back in the main system. Well, he is doing great so far (about four or five days now). He is eating  like a pig. No signs of any infections. I did leave a small stump as I was  afraid to accidentally cut his mouth if over trimming. Do you think this  will be OK? <I'm hopeful...> Should I have taken it all off and chanced more damage?  <Hard to state... there are trade-offs, compromises...> My guess is he will be just fine given the results to date. What are you additional thoughts? <None worth positing here... congratulations> Thanks for the great advice. Regards, Carlos >>
<You're welcome, Bob Fenner>

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