[New aquarium owner. Pardon any lack of basic knowledge or incorrect terminology.]
My fish has some weird red protrusions coming out from the bottom part of its gills that look like either "external gills" (if such a thing is possible) or a second pair of fins (again, if such a thing is possible).
I don't really have any basis to go off of, and none of the pictures I found online matched what I'm seeing, so seeking guidance/advice on the matter.
--> Can anyone tell me if this is normal or my fish is sick?
I "rescued" a few small fish from a local pond that was being emptied for renovations. Most of them died while I was trying to figure out how to care for them and getting the water chemistry right. (There was a lot more to this than I expected...) Anyway, now only one of the fish is still alive. For the purposes of this post let's call him/her "Sam". I want Sam to have a good healthy long life so I can reintroduce them back into the wild after the pond reopens. But I've noticed something that I think may be indicative of a health problem.
Issue and Observations:
I was out of town for a week and when I came back today, I found that Sam had red protrusions coming out from the bottom of their gills almost like a second pair of fins.
- I don't think it's a parasite since it's identical (symmetric) on both sides of Sam's body.
- I see these protrusions "move" when Sam swims around. The motion is very fin-like, but I can't tell if Sam is actively moving them or they're just flapping around due to water currents.
- I don't recall seeing these on Sam before I left, but maybe I just didn't notice because Sam was a grey color before and started turning red during my absence. (Note: The pond where Sam comes from has lots of red fish, so I'm not overly concerned about the color change – yet.)
- Sam does not appear to be lacking oxygen: They're not swimming up to the top of the aquarium and doesn't appear to be "gasping" for air.
- Sam is less active than before I left, but maybe this is explainable by the time of day. (It's night now. I came back late in the evening. So maybe they're just sleepy and less active.)
- Sam's diet changed while I was away: Before I left, I was feeding them Pond Flakes and freeze dried Blood Worms, but in my absence I put in a block of
Top Fin: 10-Day Fish Food Feeder
- Fresh water
- Non-tropical (found in a pond in central Georgia, USA)
- Unknown species
- Just your average run-of-the-mill street fish (you can probably find them chilling in the parking lot of your local mall, or throwing rocks at cars from an overpass) (joke)
- About 3/4 inch long when I got it, and now it's about 1.5 inch long
- Basic 10 gallon aquarium
- Located in direct sunlight but with with lots of shade and caverns for Sam to hide in. (I tried to replicate the environment of the pond.)
- I have both aquarium sand and colored gravel for the ground cover
- Several small aquatic plants
- Two snails
- A properly sized filter with mechanical, biological, and carbon filtration.
- Note: I just changed the carbon filter before leaving. So, maybe I didn't wash the carbon enough before putting it in and this caused carbon particulates to enter the water and injure Sam's gills?
Water chemistry before my absence:
- Temp: 74ºF/22ºC (night) - 80ºF/27ºC (day) (Fluctuation is due to direct sunlight on tank during day) :: OK
- Nitrate: 0 < NO3 < 10 ppm (mg/L) :: GOOD
- Nitrite: 0 < NO2 < 0.5 ppm (mg/L) :: GOOD
- Acidity: 6.5 < pH < 7.0 :: LOW
- Carb Hard: 0 < KH < 40 ppm (mg/L) :: LOW
- Gen Hard: 0 < GH < 30 ppm (mg/L) :: LOW
Water chemistry after coming back:
- Temp: no change :: OK
- Nitrate: no change :: GOOD
- Nitrite: no change :: GOOD
- Acidity: 7.0 < pH < 7.5 :: GOOD
- Carb Hard: 80 < KH < 120 ppm (mg/L) :: GOOD
- Gen Hard: 180 < GH < ??? ppm (mg/L) :: HIGH (The test strip turned purple: This is above 180 ppm, which is the highest my test kit is labeled for.)
Planned corrective measures:
- I increased the bubbler intensity and frequency to make more aeration. (I had it set on a timer and running at half strength, but I'll leave it on full blast overnight and see if that changes anything.)
- I've started slowly changing the water in the tank. I plan to do this over a period of a couple days to avoid sudden changes. (A sudden water change is what killed all the other fish I had rescued from the same pond, so even though Sam survived it last time, I don't want to take any risks now; even though the GH is clearly very high now and needs to be corrected right away.)
- I removed the feeder block in case that's what was causing the pH, KH, and GH to rise.
- I might play some light music for Sam on my viola: It's 1AM and my neighbors are blasting some awful tunes at their party and probably keeping poor Sam awake... (joke, but no really, can't they go to sleep already??) [update: it's 2AM and they've finally quieted down - these posts take long to write! :) ]