Gas Bubble Disease ("GBD") is a dangerous condition similar to the BENDS (decompression sickness) experienced by divers. GBD is characterized by the formation of gas bubbles inside a fish's body cavity. Bubbles may form behind the eyes (causing "popeye" or exopthalmia), beneath the skin, in the blood (blocking its flow and causing tissue death), or worst of all, in the gills, blocking blood flow and leading to death by asphyxiation.
While it is very serious, this condition is also completely preventable. Understanding the causes and then protecting your fish from them is very important.
One cause of gas bubble disease is the supersaturation of gases in aquarium water. This supersaturation occurs:
|1.||Due to the pressure under which tap water (which in turn fills your aquarium) is pumped.|
|2.||When cold water warms up to room temperature.|
Note that both of these conditions may be present when you fill a new aquarium or change water. It is at these times that we must take steps to protect our fish from GBD.
As mentioned above, supersaturated water does not immediately release the gasses dissolved in it - it needs time to go through this process of outgassing (releasing these dissolved gasses).
The following will allow the outgassing process to take place:
And this may help the outgassing process along:
GBD caused by supersaturation/insufficient outgassing is entirely preventable, and all steps should be taken to avoid it.