Koi has an oto stuck in his mouth!!

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Hi all,

I have a 36g freshwater tank with a koi that I've had for several years. I think he's around 5" long. There are also two otos in there that were there before I got the koi, about 1" long each.

They've always been OK together... [ominous foreshadowing]

I feed the koi pond pellets, 14 each night. But last night he didn't eat, which is unusual but not rare.

Tonight I went to feed him, and saw that he's not only eaten one of the otos, but the fish is stuck in his mouth! I'm not sure how long it's been like that, it could be anywhere from a few minutes to 12 hours.

I had this happen once before, many years ago, with a goldfish. I let it go for 4 days with no change, so I tried to pull it out with tweezers. I thought it was a success but the goldfish died a few days later.

What do you guys think? Since he hasn't had regular food in 48 hours now (he skipped last night's feeding, and obviously can't eat tonight), how long before I go nuclear and try to remove the dead oto?

If it gets to that point, should I try to pull it straight out and let the koi pull against me? Or try to hold the koi steady and pull it out slowly? Or twist it so that the fins don't embed in to anything?
 
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Welcome!
I would sedate the goldfish using clove oil and carefully remove the otocinclus with a pair of tweezers.
I suspect you have a goldfish, not a koi.
 
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I didn't have an answer to your current problem but wanted to say the same - welcome to the GPF and I would bet that's a goldfish, not a koi in your tank. Post some pictures and we can confirm. Not that it matters really - your fish still has a problem! Hope you can figure it out!
 
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I've suspected that it could be a modified goldfish, too... I got him from a local fish store, but his whiskers aren't as long as I expected and the coloring is a little patchy.

I just now took these pics, no obvious change yet :-(

How long before I should try to remove it?

There's no local fish store anymore, though, so I'm kind of on my own here. Where do I get the clove oil, and how is it administered?
 

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Wow! Great photos! And that thing is really stuck, isn't it. Have you tried just pulling it out? Sounds crazy, but maybe it's not stuck so much that you couldn't just give it a good tug. Just a thought...
 
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Thanks :) It's my Samsung Galaxy S7, I'm always amazed with the picture quality.

Yeah, last night I caught him in a net (he's a little bigger than my net so that's easier said than done), and I have these gripping tweezers that I use for computer repair that I used to get hold of the tail of the oto. I pulled straight and the koi/goldie started to thrash a little, so I bailed for fear of breaking his jaw.

So it didn't come out easily, anyway, and that's when I came here.

If it matters, I looked more closely today and I think my fish is closer to 7". I said 5" last night, but today I could see that he's definitely longer than my hand, and my hand is 6".
 
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This is from another website (Koiphen)

"Clove oil at a rate of 12 to 16 drops per gallon will calm a fish in a matter of minutes. Larger koi generally need more but each koi is different in the reaction to a sedative. Add the clove oil to a small container of water which can be shaken thoroughly. Then add it to the sedating bowl. DO NOT LEAVE THE FISH UNATTENDED DURING THIS TIME. Use only enough water to cover the fish. Aerate. When the fish lays over on your hand without flopping and while still having gill movement it is ready for treatment. Practice this a couple of times keeping a supply of fresh but aged water close by. If for any reason you feel the fish has become sedated too deeply, simply move it to fresh aerated water and assist the fish in using the gills and hold near aeration. Assist the gills by moving the fish back and forth forcing water to pass over the gills. Use your middle finger in the mouth with one hand and hold the tailstop gently with the other."

As far as where to buy clove oil, where do you live?
 
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Clove oil is often available at the pharmacy as it's used to tooth pain...I got some at CVS. It's also available at many health food stores and of course online.

You can google about how much to use, especially for a smaller fish like yours. It's a sedative, in larger doses it's used to humanely euthanize sick fish.
 
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Good news!! I just got home (I did find clove oil at the local Rite-Aid in North Carolina, US), but he's somehow dislodged the dead oto on his own :)

He's still acting weird, though. He's not sideways or anything, but he's hanging out at the bottom of the tank near the glass, just sorta chilling. He usually swims to the top quickly when he sees me, but this time it's like he didn't see me. Remember that he didn't eat the night before he ate the oto (didn't even acknowledge the pellets), so I'm worried that something else is up and the oto was just a symptom of something bigger.

So I'm about to go do a water change, sorta step # 1 when things aren't looking right.
 
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I hope so... I'll update if he doesn't eat tonight. I usually feed him at around midnight (4 hours from now), so if he doesn't eat then I'll be a little nervous
 
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Are you sure the fish is completely dislodged from the mouth of your koi? If you're unsure, I'd still lightly sedate him and carefully inspect. I'm hoping you've found the corpse of the dead fish intact and sedation won't be neccesary.

Your fish looks like a koi from the pictures you posted . If you've had it for several years, it's very small. Koi grow quickly and need more then 36 gallons of water.....have you considered a pond?
 
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I'm pretty sure it's all dislodged... his mouth is closed, although I saw him snap at the bubble wall thing (something I've never seen him do) that instantly brought to mind the micro seizures I've seen in other fish in the past.

And the carcass of the oto seemed mostly intact, although I can't be sure that there's not some fin lodged in the koi's mouth somewhere.

Your fish looks like a koi from the pictures you posted . If you've had it for several years, it's very small. Koi grow quickly and need more then 36 gallons of water.....have you considered a pond?
I've thought the same thing about his size, which is another reason why I suspected that he could be a modified goldfish. Or maybe a hybrid? His barbels seem very short, too.

I have a 1,000 gallon pond outside, and my original plan was to keep him in the tank until he outgrew it, then put him in the pond. But honestly, after all these years of him being inside, I'm a little protective! I worry that I'll put him in the pond and he'll go in to shock, or maybe the other pond goldfish will pick on him and kill him. I've also seen a bullfrog sniffing around out there :mad:
 
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Just an update... so far so good! I did a hefty water change last night and cleaned the filters and pump, then changed out some of the decor and moved things around so that my other oto will have somewhere to hide. Then I turned off the lights for a few hours to let everything sorta chill.

At feeding time, my koi came right up to the top and ate normally, so yay! And today when I went downstairs to turn on his light, he bounced around like a puppy when he saw me (like he always does). So everything seems back to normal now :)
 
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Great to hear that the oto is out.
The koi will probably be recovering for a bit from the injury.
I wouldn't worry about moving the koi outside, it will certainly benefit from a more diverse food supply and more room to grow.
If you want some advice for how to move the koi outdoors with minimal stress, let us know.
 

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