Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Angelfish -- Lip Fibroma

If you read this blog with any regularity you will know the subject matter is fairly random.  Life tends to be fairly random.  This post is fairly random.  But I find the topic very peculiar and extremely fascinating.  Maybe you will too. 

 We’ve had this angelfish since she was a baby the size of a quarter.  Now from fin tip to fin tip she measures almost six inches.  Recently we noticed her lips had gotten really large – it happened very gradually, so we didn’t think too much about it until I started looking at them, considering that it was odd, and wondering if she could even eat.  When we actually started watching her she didn’t even attempt to nab any food.   She just looked at it longingly as it drifted past her in the tank.  Ok, I made the longing look up, but I’m sure if a fish could look longingly, she did.  And I call her “she” because I can’t think of her as a “he”.  Angelfish and ladybugs are alike in this way.  You know half of them are hims but you still call them all hers.

 I went to google, tapped in “angelfish lip growth”, and started reading about “lip fibroma” which must be at least somewhat common.  One person commenting mentioned surgery to cut off the growth, and I thought he must’ve been crazy.  Then I started reading more stuff where people said it was the only option if you don’t want your fish to starve to death.  Reading all this was a mistake.  Actually, it was the reading this right before bed that was a mistake.  I couldn’t sleep after that and could only think about how it would really work to do surgery on our fish.  Fascinating and nerve wracking at the same time!

 The next morning I set out all the “instruments”.  I’d read that the growth was hard, and you would need a very sharp scissors.  The fish should be in a shallow pan of water.  I’d also read that covering the fish with a wet cloth was a good idea so it wouldn’t flop around and couldn’t see the scissors coming.  I thought that sounded logical.  

 Nathan caught the fish and I proceeded to snip.  The growth was like a lightly boiled cauliflower and I was able to cut most of it off quickly.  We put her back in the tank and she seemed fine.  In a few days she was eating again and looking very happy.  (Again, the happy look is mostly my own imagining.)

  The trimmings.

I fear there may be another surgery in our future though, since it looks like what was left of the growth is coming back again.  Maybe this time my hands won’t be shaking quite as much!

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, 
to receive glory and honor and power,
 for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created.”
Revelation 4:11


  1. Love it!!! This totally made my evening in the midst of my proportions and variations homework. I'm glad to hear the surgery was successful and that your family is doing well.
    Your cousin Kenneth

  2. Yes, Kenneth, The whole thing is just fascinating to me! :) It's just so strange!

  3. Just wondering how all this turned out as I'm going to have to do the same thing and am scared to death of cutting too much.

    1. Since I posted this over a year ago, I've had to cut the growth out at least four times. It's not so bad anymore! :) At least I my hands don't get as shaky as they did the first time! I just watch for when she can't eat and then I know it's time to do a surgery again. I just try to be really quick so that I can get her back into water as soon as possible.

      If you really look at the fish while she's still in the tank and try to see exactly what is her natural lip line BEFORE you take her out, I think that will help. You'll have a better idea of what you can and can't cut. You don't want to cut the natural lip. I'd recommend cutting less rather than more if you really can't tell what's lip and what's growth, and then if you didn't get enough of the growth maybe you could take more off later if she still can't eat.

      Hope it's successful! Let me know. :)

    2. Shelley, having the fish in a shallow pan of water will be helpful too. I just noticed I hadn't written that in the original post and added it. :)

    3. I'm considering fish surgery myself (never thought I'd write those words!) I'm concerned about using the right, sharpest instrument. Could you tell me what type of instrument has been the easiest to use to slice these things off. Thanks!

    4. Pam, what I found to work well was a very sharp, strong, pointy scissors. It's actually a small fabric scissors, for cutting small bits of fabric in tight places when you're sewing. Hope this helps!


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