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Mouth problems in goldfish

Goldfish develop various problems in and around their mouth. They commonly forage by sucking sand or gravel into their mouths in the search for food particles. Occasionally, large pieces of gravel get stuck, but in many cases, these are expelled unaided by the fish after several minutes. This is most common in goldfish living in indoor aquaria where they are more closely observed. Bacterial infection of the mouth is less common and often related to poor water quality. In contrast to koi, virus infections and tumours around the mouth are uncommon in goldfish.

Goldfish with gravel in mouth
Goldfish with gravel in mouth

Owners may seek professional assistance when gravel is stuck in the mouth, but often during the netting, bagging and transportation, it is dislodged and expelled before they reach the clinic. On rare occasions, it can get stuck because of its relative size and shape, and cannot be expelled by the fish.

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Goldfish with gravel removed
Goldfish with gravel removed

Sedation is usually required to allow large pieces of gravel to be grasped and carefully removed with forceps to avoid damaging the delicate lining of the mouth. In this case, the gravel had been stuck for two days before it was pushed further into the mouth and rotated before removal.

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Goldfish with mouth rot
Goldfish with mouth rot

This is severe case of mouth rot due to bacterial infection with extensive loss of the soft tissues and exposure of the underling bones. An area of thickened skin can be seen as a transparent film behind the damage on the left side and over part of the eye (arrowed): this is a response to the injury and an attempt at healing.

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Goldfish with gravel in mouth
Goldfish with gravel in mouth

Owners may seek professional assistance when gravel is stuck in the mouth, but often during the netting, bagging and transportation, it is dislodged and expelled before they reach the clinic. On rare occasions, it can get stuck because of its relative size and shape, and cannot be expelled by the fish.

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