Emergency! Discus Swimming Upside Down - Bloated Belly/Swim Bladder?

Elliott03

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 60 gallon
How long has the tank been running? 4+ years, 2 months with discus
Does it have a filter? Yes, Fluval 407
Does it have a heater? Yes, 500 Watt
What is the water temperature? 85-86F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? 6 Discus (~3 inches), 1 Common Pleco (7 inches), 1 Cory cat, 1 Tiger barb

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Every other day
How much of the water do you change? 30%
What do you use to treat your water? Prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? No substrate, but I always get the junk from the bottom of the tank

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? pH, Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite tests
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
pH: 7.2

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? 3 times a day
How much do you feed your fish? What they eat in 3-5 minutes
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Discus hans discus flakes. Omega One Bloodworms. Omega One Brine Shrimp.
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Frozen when not flakes, but I thaw it out.

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 2 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Last night ~10pm, no issues. Today, 11am, fish was under a decoration upside down. When I freed him, he continued swimming upside down or on his side.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Extremely bloated belly. Everything else looks fine.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? No, but I've read epsom salt may work. Might start there.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Swimming upside down, wanting to hide in decorations so he doesn't float to the top.

Explain your emergency situation in detail. I noticed a severely swollen belly (see picture) and if left alone, he tips upside down. It appears to be really uncomfortable for him as he fights to stay upright, but can't, and eventually gives up and just lays sideways at the surface. He tries to get stuck in decorations so he won't float to the top of the tank. Looking for advice on how to treat him. I do have a spare 30 and 10 gallon tank if needed, but it would take time to set them up, which I don't have due to plans today.
 

Mike1995

I'm sure someone with more experience can chime in on discus, but I'd seriously consider rehoming your common pleco and tiger barb. Common plecos grow by long and far too large for your size tank. Something like a bristle nose or something would be more suitable. Tiger barbs should be in a school of 6 or more, and with discus I wouldn't recommend that. They are nippy and may cause issues.
 
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bcfishtanks

I've only dealt with this in bettas, so I'm not sure if this applies to other fish. That being said, please research my advice before you try it on this fish.

Another reason for bloating could be constipation, which can also damage the swim bladder. For bettas, you fast them for 3 days. After three days, boil a pea and take off the casing and drop pieces of the pea in the tank. The biggest issue is that the pea sinks, so since your buddy can't dive, you would likely need to get him to eat off your finger or from a spoon. This sparks their digestive system, but it can take a while to pass everything. It took my betta over 2 weeks to fully pass his constipation.

Again, PLEASE research this for other types of fish.
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

You should get rid of the tiger barb, they are very nippy. And cories have to have a school of at least six. And also I don't think any of these fish (except discus) can live in 85-86 degrees F.

And you shouldn't feed your fish 3 times a day, 2 is debatable, I say 1 time in 3-5 minutes, but you can go with 2. And maybe internal parasites can cause bloating, and swim bladder disease. But I don't know if one can cause both.
 
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Elliott03

If we could stay focused on the issue at hand of the fish swimming upside down, that would be great. I'm well aware of the tiger barb and common pleco not being ideal stock, and I have a plan for that moving forward, but they are not the pressing matter.
 
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FinalFins

And you shouldn't feed your fish 3 times a day, 2 is debatable, I say 1 time in 3-5 minutes, but you can go with 2. And maybe internal parasites can cause bloating, and swim bladder disease. But I don't know if one can cause both.
From what I know juvenile discus are often fed multiple times throughout the day.

If we could stay focused on the issue at hand of the fish swimming upside down, that would be great. I'm well aware of the tiger barb and common pleco not being ideal stock, and I have a plan for that moving forward, but they are not the pressing matter.
Try adding epsom salt to the tank. 1 tbsp per 10 gallons. I think that is a good place to start.
 
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Elliott03

From what I know juvenile discus are often fed multiple times throughout the day.


Try adding epsom salt to the tank. 1 tbsp per 10 gallons. I think that is a good place to start.
Thanks for the advice. I did an Epsom salt bath, and then a much lower dose for the tank. Still no improvement unfortunately :/ I don't think it looks very promising at this point.
 
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