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Black Piranha Might Be Sick? Mouth Stays Open

2046 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  BlackPiranhaT
Hi all-
I'm new here and joined up due to an issue with my Black. I have had him for a little over a year, bought him when he was ~1.5 inches long, he's about 2.5/3 inches long now.

He is in a 75g tank, sand substrate , several mossimo balls and some large rock decor for hiding spots.

Water stays at 78 degrees, water quality parameters are damn near perfect. pH is around 7/7.1....0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates are around 20ppm . I do weekly 20/25% water changes/addition using the python water tube.

Filteration is a hang on back Marina system for a 75g tank, internal canister power head with a filter, and most importantly, fluval 306 that works magic.

His diet is raw thawed shrimp, tilapia, and very occasionally- like once every 6 weeks or 2 months, some salmon bits.

About a month and a half ago, I noticed his mouth remained open. I didn't think anything of it but it got worse and worse. He was still eating fine, just had more difficulty with it. Over the last week, he tries to eat the food but doesn't seem to be able to grab it and swallow it. This is concerning me.

He remains VERY active and will swim sharply to ththe tank when it's feeding time.

I have noticed one of his gills is slightly swollen and you can some red in it- tried to capture this in the pics below. His eyes appear normal,

I don't think anything is lodged in his mouth but not quite sure. I figured if something was lodged it would have been worked out by now, as this has been a long time now.

Any ideas what this could be? Would a disease cause this possibly? I am not sure what to do but now that he can't get food down, I'm getting very worried. Again, he is not sluggish and remains very active, but his mouth is literally wide open....

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I have seen posts of fish with dislocated jaws from running into the glass or other objects but, hard to tell without seeing. It could also be a tooth problem, which will resolve itslef over time when the new set grows in.
Thank you.

My apologies for the bad pictures, but I think you can see what I mean. This is how his mouth is currently and does not close - from the front, you can see directly into his mouth easily. His teeth are protruding a bit as well, which it difficult for him to chomp down on his food too. I also think his right side gill is more open than it should be? I could never see all that red before I noticed his mouth being open like this. I do not think something is lodged in there, because I am very careful with the food I put in there - nothing with a shell or anything like that like when I peel the raw shrimp. Food is shrimp and tilapia about 95% of the time, salmon is very seldom.

Again, water parameters are great and I do weekly changes religiously. Obviously, no other tank mates - just him so I ruled out something else being sick and getting him sick. Could he be sick as well? Maybe something I should try treating him with? But he remains very active (hard to get a pic of him) and lunges towards the tank when it's feeding time etc, so I am guessing he is not sick. But I'm concerned because he literally can not grab onto the chunks of food pieces I drop in there, although he goes after everything I put in there.

Thank you for the post, any help is greatly appreciated!


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Could be a few things, like I said before a dislocated jaw from smashing into something. Could have a rock or something stuck in there, or could be a bacterial infection (but doesnt appear like that in the pics?)but there would likely be swelling or visible signs.

Your options are wait it out, or try to catch the fish and reset the jaw or remove the debris. Trying to fix the issue is dangerous, as their teeth are extremely sharp and you could break the jaw causing permanent damage. I would only attempt this if the fish appears to be loosing lots of weight and starving. Keep up on water changes, and if the fish is gasping for air at the surface you may need to add an air stone.

good luck!
Appreciate th feedback. I may just wait it out.

It has been like this for easily about two maybe even three months since it started.

I only recently started getting concerned because he can't seem to get food into his mouth anymore, so I just drop the shrimp and walk away for 20-30 mins. Assuming he's eating as he's not losing weight and acting normally other than the wide mouth.

And agree; don't think it's an infection- no other signs anything to show to me otherwise.

Hopefully it'll iron itself out and I'll keep up with my changes. Again thanks for info, eases my mind a bit.

Oh on your last point, along with the hang on back filter, the Fluvsl 306, and internal canister filter Powerhead- I also have two sponge filters that use an air tube on both sides of the tank that add plenty of air stone type large bubbles, I don't think it's an oxygen thing. Plenty of surface agitation and movement for air exchange
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