Swim bladder lancing video shows simple procedure to correct down-swimming fish

By on Dec 01, 2011

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We’ve all seen those basslets. anthias and some swallowtail angelfish exhibiting the downward swimming behavior which is a tell-tale symptom that something is wrong with that fish’s swim bladder. It is widely known that it is possible to ‘lance’ the gas out of the swim bladder but we can’t name a single LFS employee or individual hobbyist who can do this, or proficient at it by any means. It’s clear to see how and where to lance gas bubbles around the eyes but in the case of swim bladder trouble, unless you have an intimate knowledge and understanding of ichthyological anatomy you don’t want to just start poking around your fish’s cavities with a hypodermic syringe. Well at least one creative Japanese LFS Splash Sea is employing a novel method which is effective at helping to lance small reef fish with bladder problems. 

With the use of a brightly backlit dish the reef fish surgeons at Splash Sea manage to depress the black cap gramma’s swim bladder with only two probes from the hypodermic needle. Our Japanese correspondent Taka Kamata who edits Reef Builders Japan confirmed that what is said in the video is a literal narration of what is visible in the footage. It’s really quite impressive to see this black cap gramma quickly go from fighting its buoyancy to being on relatively better terms with gravity in what is described as less than an hour. In a normal retail environment that Gramma and many other deeper water fishes would languish for weeks or months before eventually recovering buoyancy or slowly perishing so hats off for the staff at Splash Sea for sharing this method through an easily understood walkthrough.

We can see this method of backlighting a swim-bladder misfire in small basslets being no problem as demonstrated but for more delicate anthias and wrasse species, the experience itself could be stressful enough to be fatal. Perhaps the use of MS-222 sedative and/or some kind of facial covering could help alleviate potential shock-induced fatalities. The problem of deepwater fish with dysfunctional swim bladders is a widespread one so we hope that LFS employees will take a minute to give some thought as to how they could do this too. And if any pros in the public aquarium or ornamental aquarium field have any experience or input regarding this and other methods for alleviating buoyancy issues in reef fish, ’tis the season to be sharing tips about stabbing swim bladders with needles.

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