There are a lot of ailments that can affect saltwater fish and for most of these we have tried and trusted treatments. If a fish gets ich we know how to use copper, if a fish has flukes we can give it a freshwater bath and if there’s an infection, antibiotics will usually do the trick but sometimes fish present us with more challenging symptoms.
We were recently faced one such unusual challenge with one of our purple tilefish which experienced a grotesque looking looking bubble behind of its eyes following a small freak out which sent it flying head first into the glass top. This was not the first time that one of our purple tilefish bonked its head on the glass top and developed a little eye swelling but this was the first to developed a gas bubble that made its eye bulge out.
The silver lining about the fish’s affliction is that despite the swelling there was no hemorrhaging and no subsequent infection so we pulled out a hypodermic syringe and decided to get medieval with our procedure. Once we’d secured the purple tilefish gently but firmly against the glass we simply lanced the highly visible bubble of air with the hypodermic syringe and sucked out the misplaced gas, reducing the size o the swollen eye by more than 50% almost immediately.
To be clear it’s not actually the ‘eye’ that we penetrated but the surrounding connective skin which holds the eye in place so it was a very unobtrusive procedure which the fish recovered from almost instantly. A few minutes later the bug eyed purple tilefish was swimming around much better without the airbag lifting its head and throwing off its buoyancy and it ate readily when offered some scrumptious mysis shrimp.
This gas bubble affliction is not unheard of in marine fish and it’s not the first time we’ve had to perform this hands on procedure so we know that the gas bubble may grow and return so we may have to do it again. Despite the bulging eye this purple tilefish is in great shape so we’ll be watching it and hope everything returns to normal under good calm conditions and lots of TLC.