Is this hole in the head on my giant gourami?




It started off as redness on the skin and I thought it was his usual rubbing against the filter pipe. Is this just a wound that will heal over time or is it something serious that needs a special medication ?

I don't know anything about fishes and this giant gourami was my late father's. All I do is feed him and clean out the filter once in a while. I don't have water testers or any of that sort so I don't really have that information on me.

Thanks a lot for reading and I hope someone might be able to put my mind at ease.


Well, I'm not sure the open wound is something real serious. It Does look like it MIGHT be more than just a wound, based on the white edging around the inside of the wound (that may be signaling infection or dying tissue). IF on the other hand, it is just a surface wound, and he is healthy and the tank is kept in optimal parameters, than it WILL heal on it's own, no intervention needed.

I'm a little concerned on the largish bump on the other side of the head - has this always been there? Is that normal? Is there a different (darker) color to it? Male giant gourami do get nuchal humps on their foreheads similar to how flowerhorn do, but, I'm not sure that looks like a nuchal hump to me, a picture straight on would help but, if it's always been there I'm not sure it'd be a cause for concern (first time seeing a gourami with a nuchal hump like that though is all).

*To give some relief*
If you've been honest in saying that you haven't done much for him other than feed him and occasionally clean his filter out, than the wound (and additional scraping behavior) may be something to do more with the water quality opposed to anything malignant (such as hexamita parasite, or HITH as you're citing). HITH is actually caused by a parasite, and usually, these parasites are present within the fish their entire lives, and will present in 'optimal' conditions for the parasite. Traditionally, these conditions tend to be 'less than optimal' water quality. and too, even if it IS, in fact, HITH, The symptoms can be halted and/or mediated with proper water quality and consistency with that. The unfortunate thing about HITH, is that usually, it can't be cured once it occurs, and you can only treat the symptoms. What's alright about this, is that the parasite will stop progressing, and the subsequent lesions can heal so long as water conditions are kept optimal to reduce the likelihood of the parasite thriving.

On the other hand, if it's a gram-negative bacterial infection than it's in it's beginning stages (OR, it's a wound that is beginning to get infected). and I would start by treating with a gram negative bacterial medication (like myracin 2, triple sulfa, or furan-2) AFTER getting water parameters in optimal ranges (explained below). If the gram negative doesn't help at all, try a gram positive (like erythromycin), if the gram positive doesn't help, try something like general cure, or a 'parasite' medication geared towards hexamita.

PS fish have their own immune systems (just like we do), so long as we keep their environment healthy, they can generally avoid pathogens in their environment that would otherwise infect them in more polluted conditions.

So, what's 'less than optimal water quality' anyway? Most people think of 'dirty' aquarium water as brown or cloudy water, but actually, 'dirty' aquarium water and 'water quality' refer to the health and balance of the compounds found within the tank water. Is the tank ammonia/nitrite/waste compound free, or is it highly saturated? and we won't know these things by looking with our eye.

I'm really sorry to hear about your father, I imagine you do your best for his fish, I see you're a new member here, there's lots of good sources and info on this site-lots of good people too. Just ask questions - we're here to help.

So to start, to keep your water quality optimal, you really, really, REALLY need to keep up on water changes for him. That's the most important care requirement for fish tanks. Water changes *dilute* the overall concentrations of waste chemicals that're in the tank that cannot be broken down anymore by the beneficial bacteria living in your filter/gravel bed (nitrate and phosphate). Additionally, overtime, these waste by-products are ALSO acidic, and will lower your PH. If left without water changes, all aquariums end up with waste saturated, mineral deficient water - an environment that no fish can thrive in long term. Doesn't mean they can't live, but when issues like this (small wounds) arise, they don't have the environment they need to get better. The phenomenon I just described is called 'old tank syndrome'.

If you've never done a water change, it's very easy - the hard part is moving buckets. Unless you use something like a python or a marina water changer (or hydro-vac).

How do I know if that's What's going on in My Tank?
Well, the water testers you mentioned is really the only way you'd know for sure. 2 Options, first is the better, to buy your own API freshwater master test kit from amazon for 20-30$. Second would be to run a sample (at least 40ml but the more the merrier) of tank water to your nearest fish store (that tests) and have them give you numbers. Dont let them interpret it for you, Imma tell you how (you can let them, but don't let them sell you anything to 'fix it'...unless you recognize it recommended from here.):

*Essentially, if you know the tank hasn't been 'diluted' (had a water change) in more than 6 months, you can assume it needs a water change, whether you test - or you don't, a water change will never HURT a tank, doing a water change AND cleaning the filter at the same time CAN though - will explain further down).*

*Additionally, filling the tank up after it has evaporated over time IS NOT DILUTING (many people think it is). When water evaporates out, the only things that are removed are H20 (hydrogen and oxygen). that means the ammonia (NH4), the nitrite (NO2-) and the nitrate (NO3-) are still in the tank, in the same concentration. If the tank is continually topped off, waste compounds will skyrocket bec they're never actually being removed, and are only increasing over time* -old tank syndrome.

Per the nitrogen cycle there's ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate floating around in your aquarium because of the fish. Well, The fish put ammonia in the tank from their waste, these bacteria (good bacteria, like pro-biotics) come along and eat that ammonia. That bacteria's form of waste is nitrite. A second colony of bacteria (nitrobacter) naturally comes along and eats the nitrite, and converts it into nitrate, thus completing the 'cycle'.

Ammonia should be no more than .5, anything over .5 is toxic and can harm fish. Same with nitrite, except nitrite is even MORE toxic. In an established, cycled tank (like yours) these parameters should naturally test low because you've got plenty of bacteria in your FILTER and Gravel Bed to 'EAT' (oxidize) these waste by-products (ammonia and nitrite) Nitrate is the 3rd thing they'll likely talk about, and nitrate is a waste chemical that isn't toxic to fish, but isn't good in concentrations above 40ppm. you want your PH anywhere between 6.8 and 8.0 for giant gourami, it's a large range but you don't want it dropping below 6.5, and it can if you don't do water changes for awhile. Regardless of where PH tests, you'll focus more on your nitrate levels (and if the ph tests low, assume it's due to high nitrates - and a water change will kill two birds with one stone)

To recap: You WANT ammonia and nitrite below .4ppm in your tank (less than whole number [actually, you want it as low as possible, but above .4 is BAD). Nitrate between 5-40ppm. (can be whole numbers). Ph Ideally between 6.8-8.0, but the most important thing about PH is that is stays as close to neutral and at the same number (whatever number that is, my lucky ones are 7.6 and 7.8 for my tanks) for PH, you know something is going on when that number changes (either goes up or down - the bigger the change, the bigger the problem).

NOW, you also don't want to go changing and completely cleaning the tank all at once either, this will disrupt and upset the natural balance in the tank, and could cause for LESS stability in the long run, and stability is key. *As Mentioned: Fish can live in less than optimal conditions for a long time until those conditions 'bottom out', regardless of how bad those conditions are, so long as they presented gradually, fish will generally acclimate over that longer time span*.

This is why you NEVER want to do a water change AND clean the filter at the same time. and when you do clean the filter, you should never clean the biological media inside. (usually as ceramic stones, or plastic balls with slits in them, even if they're gunky, put them aside in a bowl of old tank water and put them right back into the 'cleaned out' filter, gunk and all [called biomax, or bioballs]). It's perfectly fine to wring the sponges out in hot tap water (some would recommend you don't, but I do), don't ever do that with your bio media though. :). (I'm assuming you have a canister on a larger tank, if you run a HOB [hang on back] filter, I can tell you how to save ur bio media there too)

So, depending on where the water is testing, or to avoid stressing your gourami out too much with a large degree of change (in water quality, even if its a positive change), I would do between 30-25% water changes with dechlorinated tap water on a semi-frequent basis (the worse or more saturated the water is, the more frequent you change w/ smaller water changes, to change at a greater length of time).

Having a test kit will really help you determine how much is too much or how bad is bad in terms of water maintenance, but usually water changes are recommended every 2 weeks as a precautionary measure. (I do mine every week, some people do theirs once a month - depends on how long your tank can sustain 'optimal' water quality before going outside of those ranges mentioned in 'recap'. - the more fish (or bigger fish), the less time it takes and more frequent maintenance is needed).

You'll want to use tap water because it usually has a close to neutral PH, and comes equipped with minerals to help keep the PH in your tank balanced regularly. Make sure you use dechlore, (or 'water conditioner [NOT Clarifier] - i recommend seachem prime) to remove the chlorine from the tap water.

If you test and everything comes back low and PH is in optimal ranges, THAN, I'd do a precautionary water change anyway, and start the medication run as mentioned above (as I'm assuming the wound is caused by water quality, but if that's not the case, and it continues to get worse, medication may be the next best option).

In this thread I talk about math and water changes in conjunction with reading your master test kit. Learn concentrations and how much water to remove to get to those concentrations.
Cycling dilemma | 467511 | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

In This thread...I talk about water parameters, and I've linked additional posts (that I would've also linked here) that have all sorts of general info, including cycling and medication info...Its quite a bit to read and maybe it's a little overwhelming if you're a total fish newbie per se (as I've assumed you are), but hopefully I've been resourceful for you.
Fish Deaths Help - | 466742 | Neon Tetra

I really believe he will be totally okay, but if you haven't been really 'maintaining' the tank, doing that alone will probably help him tremendously. Aside from the *very small* lesion/wound, he looks like a healthy Giant Gourami.

PSS, you'll know it's HITH if you do nothing and the lesion progresses (gets larger/deeper) and starts to show up in other, non-joined area's along the face and lateral line of the fish - usually near the gill plates (the lateral line is the dotted line that runs along the side of the body, perpendicular to where the spine is located). Gram-negative bacterial infections can present with similar lesions, but the difference is that generally, with bacteria, the lesion will be localized, and will spread (get larger) from 1 area. Opposed to popping up in multiple area's along the same region of the body. Hope this helped in diagnosing - Which-ever it is, I'd say you've caught it early.
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