samedi 3 juillet 2010


The sick bay

"Vous n'avez que de vous en débarrasser," said the young man in the fish department chez Truffaut after looking at the terrible photo of our sick Koï I had brought, along with the sample of water from the "bassin". The Canon printer had been telling me for some 3 months that it was out of ink. Now it is, but the salmon red lines across the photo weren't enough to obscure the raised scales toward the tail.

"L'eau est nickel," said the young woman to whom I had initially addressed my inquiry. "C'est quoi alors?"

"Une hydropisie," said the young man. Dropsy. A non-existent but fatal illness that describes a goldfish or koï with the body swollen, the eyes bulging and the scales raised all over the body, which also leads to it being called by its more proper name in English, Pinecone disease. The symptoms indicate a generalized internal infection and there's nothing to be done for the fish.

Only, the sites don't tell you what to do with the fish so racked with illness. This young man was much more specific: get rid of it.

"Mais! Comment?" I asked, off-balance. I meant how do I get rid of it. I am not good at killing things. Just look at some of the recent pages of this journal. Specifically, everything concerning birds. There is a tag for your convenience. And the shubunkin last June. Images of me trying to put it into the toilet and flush ran through my mind. I couldn't even one of any sort of crushing or stabbing.

"Mettez-le dans un sac en plastique au congelateur." I considered that a half instant. Put him in a plastic bag in the freezer. I understood. It was kind, all but the putting him (or her) in the plastic bag part. I nodded.

"Il s'en dormira. Je comprends, mais ça serait très difficile de le mettre en sac. Il se débattrait," I said. This time he nodded, and I continued to fill in the thoughts, "Il n'a pas de tout l'aire malade; il n'y a aucun changement de comportement, il mange bien, il est fort." In other words, he'd fight going into the plastic bag, and I didn't know how on earth I could force an otherwise strong fish with a healthy appetite into a bag and put it in the freezer. I had been online, and I had seen the information on Dropsy on the koï sites, but he didn't look like that. He only had one or two areas of raised scales, near the tail. And his belly and eyes were definitely not bulging like in the pictures. In short, I didn't believe it, but I hadn't read enough.

He nodded again and led me over to some shelves stocked with various antibacterial products, suggesting that I could try the one he eventually picked out for me.

When I got back, I did some more checking, and I found that there is a distinction between all over raised scales and areas of raised scales. In the second case, it is due to a bacterial infection, like the parasite Costia (scroll just under hydropisie, or check out an English language koï site for Dropsy and Costia), and can be treated with salt baths and/or antibacterial - antibiotic treatments.

Frankly, I can't imagine our vet injecting our koï with antibiotics.

So, I did as instructed. I cleaned out the black plastic basin I bought for the frogs last year, when we repaired the basin, and I put in 80 liters of water from the "bassin" and 80 liters of fresh water, added a plant and a rock and the appropriate amount of malachite green and then the koï.

He was not happy. I did not blame him. He blamed me. He might be a she.

Then I went and read some more while the hose refilled the "bassin", which I emptied by a bit more than the mere 80 liters. I found the references for salt baths and prepared a 3% salt bath in a galvanized pail, retrieved the koï, who might just never forgive me, if he or she survives whatever is ailing him or her, and put it in there, covering it with a largish water lily pot (they are like sieves) and sat, holding the inverted pot over the pail so he couldn't knock it off and perish in the sparse grass under the linden tree, for the 30 minutes suggested for the treatment, which it seemed to take rather well. Bath over, I returned it to the malachite green water in the black plastic basin, where he has been pouting ever since.

I can't say the scales look much better, but it can have some additional salt treatments, and the malachite green treatment is a four-day affair, followed by a second treatment if necessary. If that fails, I can consult the vet for antibiotics.

Or get a plastic bag.
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