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FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease Diagnosis  

FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease: Butterflyfish Disease 1, Butterflyfish Disease 2, Angels and Butterflyfishes &Crypt,  
FAQs on Butterflyfish Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious, Parasitic, Treatments

Related Articles: Butterflyfishes

Related FAQs: Butterflyfish, Butterflyfish Identification, Butterflyfish Systems, Butterflyfish Foods/Feeding/NutritionButterflyfish Compatibility, Butterflyfish Behavior, Butterflyfish Selection, Butterflyfish Reproduction,

Erratic behavior; bloody marks, raised scales, cloudiness of the eyes... Trouble.

Check and correct your water quality, WATCH your other livestock


Butterflyfishes for Marine

Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Ailing Pearlscale Butterflyfish     7/18/17
Thank you in advance for "listening" to my sick fish problem.
<What we're here for!>
Back in May (`24th) I picked up a group of Butterflyfish for my FOWLR tank (2 Pakistani, a Longnose, a Saddleback and a Pearlscale).
<Ohhhh, all faves of mine>
I have been using a three 50gal tank QT system with hyposalinity (1.01 SG) (I have since read your recommendation of skipping the QT and just doing a FW dip). They stayed at that level for 3 weeks. Everyone did well except the Pearlscale - he would not eat. Since the QT tanks were all one system I took 3-4 days to
raise the salinity to 1.021 which is where my display tank is at and moved everyone but the Pearlscale into the display tank. I was tempted to move him to but then I noticed he had a patch of darker scales on his side (pic
1). After a few days I noticed there were a few dark dots near the base of his tale - I thought - black spot disease?
<Mmm; no; not this. Likely simple trauma; damage from collection, handling, shipping>

I didn't see how that could have
survived the hyposalinity but nonetheless I tried a treatment of PraziPro.
After 5 days I remembered I had some Chloroquine Phosphate in the house.
So I did a 20% water change and treated him with that. I spoke to the manufacturer and they suggested giving 2 treatments 3 days apart. If that had no effect to try erythromycin. There was no change - in fact the dark
area on his side was getting larger. I added carbon and a 20% water change.
Then I went to the LFS and he didn't have erythromycin so he have me two treatments worth of CLOUT tablets to try. I tried two treatments.
<Mmm; I wish you would have written sooner. None of these treatments is of use; will help. I'd move this fish into the main/display and not worry re biological disease here>
No improvement (Pic 2). By the way it had now been 6 weeks and I still haven't seen him eat. I added carbon again and did another 20% water change and figured I would let him live out the few days he had left in peace. A few days went by and I found some OLD (probably ineffective) erythromycin (it still has a 'Mail Order Petshop' label -so real old). I figured the worst it could do is hasten the death of a lost fish so I treated him with that.
Still no change. I put carbon back in. Now I am out of options (I probably poisoned him with too many drugs). Unless you have any other suggestions I will just let things lie. But from the pics, do you have any idea what this might be? I would appreciate any insight you can give.
Mike S.
<Move this fish. Bob Fenner>

Small brown lesion on new butterfly         11/13/16
Hi WWM Crew, As always, thanks for your great service to the community!
<Welcome Bruce>
I just received three lemon butterfly fish for my 200 gallon Hawaiian biotope aquarium.
<A fave species>
They are in the quarantine tank and all eating very well. On the third day, I noticed on one fish a small, brown lesion at the attachment of the left anal fin. Today is day ten, and it seems to be slowly growing. The fish is somewhat more timid than the other two, but is eating well, and swimming about the tank with the other two.
When the fish arrived I performed a fifteen minute freshwater/Methylene blue dip. At first, I thought the lesion might be a flat worm. Since the fish was swimming about so quickly, I could not get a good view of the sight for long enough to evaluate. I therefore started treating with Prazipro this morning, but now I am not so sure it actually is a flatworm.
<Mmm; no>
I finally was able to get a photograph. It is not as clear as I would like, but I have attached it. I have searched your site and others, but have not been able to identify the lesion with any degree of certainty.
Are you able to tell what this might be, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan?
<Well; this appears to be a sore... resultant from collection likely... got whacked by a hand-net or struggled against the barrier net or such>
As background, the QT is currently running at 1.024 spg, with an on-the-back filter, and an air stone for increased oxygen, as well as a skimmer, with the collection cup removed while I am treating with the Prazipro.
<I'd not continue the Prazi... of no help here and likely debilitating to an extent>
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Bruce Ritter
<Good conditions and time going by will tell here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Quarantine question       9/15/16
I have a Threadfin Butterflyfish that looks like it is hemorrhaging and some of the scales seem to be separating.
<Mmm, I see this>
Attached is a picture. It is especially evident near the dorsal fin and down the side of the fish. Any idea what this might be?
<Yes; this fish is classically "breaking down"... can't tell exactly from what from the pic (need more information re the recent past... system, handling... AND sampling and microscopic exam to be sure re ext. parasitic involvement. HAVE seen Uronema, Cryptocaryon... Mycobacteria almost always.... w/ such fishes. I would tell you that w/o immediate action (I'd lower spg drastically; like to 1.010) this fish will soon perish. I WOULD remove it, or all other fishes from the same system. There are blitzkrieg type treatments... that attempt to treat all likely pathogens... A poor avenue to take.... Do you have time to study, NOW? Bob Fenner>

Re: Quarantine question. Auriga BF      9/16/16
Hi Mr. Fenner,
<Hey Stephen!>
Thank you for the input and analysis. Unfortunately, the fish perished yesterday. All of the other fish appear to be healthy - eating very well, behaving normally.
<Ahh; yes to the early demise of the BF. As prev. stated, DO KEEP AN EYE on your other fish livestock. It may well be that they will be similarly stricken.... and COULD perish in likely soon order>

As you can see from the email string, I have had unbelievable challenges trying to get the last two fish in my main tank. I was trying to get a Yellow Long-nosed Butterfly fish and the Threadfin. Per your advise, we had been bypassing the QT and doing a freshwater dip and placing them in the main tank. I have lost two sets of each of these fish with this Threadfin being the last - having survived for 41 days. I purposely chose these two fish because everything I read said they are the easiest Butterfly fish to keep. I am now ready to throw in the towel on trying to add these two fish to my aquarium.
<I'd look to other families of fishes>
I currently have the following in the 220 gallon tank: 3 orange Ocellaris Clownfish, 2 Black Ocellaris Clownfish, Flame Hawkfish, Tailspot Wrasse, Yellow Tang, Hepatus Tang, Blond Naso Tang, and a Coral Beauty. I would like to add two more fish. Do you think this size tank will accommodate two more?
<Yes I do>
All of the fish I have are small except the Blond Naso Tang which is about 7". If you think I have room, I was thinking about adding a Blue Throat Triggerfish and a Royal Gramma. What are your thoughts?
<These are good choices. >
Thank you as always.
<And you; Bob Fenner>
Re: Quarantine question      9/16/16

Thank you!
Steve DeFilippis
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Sick Spotfin Butterflyfish 06/18/11
Good Evening,
I am hoping you can help me nurse my Spotfin Butterfly back to health. I caught this fish myself off the cost of New Jersey five years ago and raised it since it was the size of a dime.
<Neat, and you are to be commended. This BF is not easily kept>
About a month ago we had a long power outage. The next day the fish developed white film over both of it eyes.
I let the fish be for two weeks and did frequent water changes thinking this would cure the problem.
<A good approach I'd warrant>
The fish than proceeded to get these white attachments that would hang on the tail. I attached a picture and hoping you can see what I am referencing.
When none of these symptoms cleared and the eyes still remained cloudy I decided to treat for a bacterial infection.
I treat with Maracyn which had no effect and most recently with Nitrofurazone. I have not seen any improvement in the fish and am kind of lost on what to do next. Does this look or sound familiar to you?
<Yes... "just" stress, mucus...>
Is there a treatment you can recommend?
<Yes... just time going by and good care. Should clear of its own accord in a month more or so>
I appreciate any advice you can provide.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>


26/02/10 Stumped.... Forcipiger hlth., troubleshooting
Hi everyone.
<Hi Jay>
I am quite confused about medicating a Long nose Butterfly.
I recently treated my long nose with Quinine Sulfate for Ich and after about three weeks it's finally gone.
<In Quarantine? Or in-tank? If you did this in tank, then the Crypt will not be gone>
From a previous email one of the representatives from WWM recommended that I treat with a product called PraziPro because my Butterfly was flashing (he said, based on what I told him, he probably has gill flukes).
I started treating with the Prazi and ever since then my BF has increased rapid gill movement and twitches a lot.
If in fact he did have flukes, I thought the Prazi was supposed to help kill them.....why are they getting worse?
<Are they flukes? If you remove the fish and freshwater dip him, you might see one or both of two things that would give you a better idea: If he stops flashing afterwards, then it is probably flukes. If you can see specks on the base of the dip container (usually white, so a dark dip container might be prudent), then they also could be flukes. Removal of these and placed under a cheap microscope will confirm. If neither of these happen, then it is probably not flukes>.
He has been clear of spots for over two weeks
<Could have just cycled off... the fish may still be infested with Crypt.. in the gills, thus the heavy breathing & flashing>
and I proceeded with the full treatment recommended for QS. Please help!
<Another possibility here... medication in the water can/ does irritate fishes, to the point where they exhibit 'flashing' behaviour. You might find that with the removal of the medication and improved water quality this will ease off>.
Thank you folks
<No problem, Simon>
Re: 26/02/10 Stumped.... Forcipiger hlth.    2/28/10

<Hi Jay>
Yes he is in a 40g quarantine tank.
I am going to lose my long nose, this morning I woke up and his gills are moving very fast and he's just in the middle of the tank gliding in the water.
<Mmm, don't give up hope. What are your tests for ammonia/ nitrite? Is the fish feeding?>
I also have an Auriga BF in the same tank which I previously treated for Oodinium and he is fine but my long
nose is not.
<Mmm, you have been treating for three different things? Likely only one was the cause/ problem here.. a pointer to the fact that correct diagnosis is vitally important to do BEFORE any fishes are medicated>
Seems like ever since I dosed with PraziPro a second time, all things got worse. What do you think?
<I think you have been using too many medications, without certain knowledge of what you are treating. I would remove all with some carbon & a skimmer, keep ammonia/ nitrite down and try to get the fish feeding, see if he can recover while you consider your next step>
I also use baking soda to buffer the water and ever since I put it in, there's like a smoke in the water.
<You've used too much, this will not help the fish breathing - can irritate it. This should precipitate out and the water will clear. . maybe a large water change w/ out the baking soda might be appropriate. I never do this in quarantine anyway, because a higher pH means that any ammonia in the water is in it's more toxic form. Just standard salinity will be fine, maybe in this case lowering it a couple of points might help the fish w/ osmosis>
I can see this in the flow from the filter
under the tank light. Is this unusual?
<Posted. Simon>
Re: 27/02/10 Re: Stumped....   2/28/10
<Hi Jay>
Ok. My nitrite and ammonia are zero.
<That is good news, and makes this much easier to manage>
Both of them were feeding but now only the Raccoon is. The Auriga looks at the food and grabs it but doesn't swallow it.
<Mmm, maybe some damage from the medications..>
I am going to do what you said but I just don't understand why they're breathing fast constantly.
<Why do you have these separated from the main system? Are you some way into a 'fallow' period for crypt? If not, if there is no improvement with the removal of the meds from the system I would consider returning the one
at least to the display>
And they both had one gill closed at certain times. I've done everything I could at this point. Hopefully it's
just the baking soda and it's harmless.
<You might find with the removal of the med from the water and a water change things improve>.
Thank you
<No problem, Simon>
Re: 27/02/10 Re: Stumped....  3/1/10
Yes I'm letting my tank be without any life.
<Ok, don't put the fish back yet then>
And I did remove the meds and that's when I noticed both fish only using one gill to breathe.
After a freshwater dip they seem to be full of life for a good day. Then the rapid breathing starts again.
<So the dip provided some relief? This is a clue.. I would dip again,
watch, and see if anything identifiable comes out in the dip container>
The Prazi pro did not work so I am assuming this isn't a fluke.
<Mmmm, maybe>
So the only other possibility this is leaning toward is the start of Ich or Velvet right?
<No, there are others... as posted.. incl. the meds themselves, the baking soda..>
I just dosed another of Quinine yesterday morning. Do you think I should keep this up or just skip on the dosing and leave the water be?
<You have not yet diagnosed the problem, and you state these meds have not yet worked, so I would cease for the moment. Your nitrite & ammonia are zero, so you have some time here...I would cease the medications, do the
water change, try to nurse the fish back to health..get it to feed.
Freshwater dip the fish and watch.. if this provides relief then it is likely not crypt or velvet as these are too far embedded for freshwater to have an effect. You may have already treated the initial cause here with your previous administrations. Simon>.
Re: 01/03/10 Re: Stumped.... Forcipiger hlth.  3/2/10

<Hello Jay>
Ok thanks a lot for getting back, I am going to do this now.
<Please write back with your results, Simon>
02/03/10 Re: Stumped. Multiple medications, no diagnosis, not listening, QT tanks. Forcipiger, other BF hlth.

<Hello Jay..>
My Raccoon is better and swimming around more. <Good> My Auriga will not eat no matter what I do, the tank was left medicine free like you suggested for three days and no change.
<Impossible. I suggested this on the 26th Feb, and again on the 1st of March. You then dose QS on the 1st of March AFTER I suggest you remove it. It is now the 3rd and you posted this yesterday on the 2nd>.
He's wasting away and I just feel it's something more than malnutrition.
<Yes, the fish is stressed out. It is probably your own actions, NOT some unknown and mysterious pathogen causing this. People always want to find some other solution that means it is not their own fault, but invariably there is no other solution. What size is this quarantine tank?>
About five days ago he was eating like a pig then all of a sudden his bones start showing (the time frame in which he went from healthy to unhealthy was unbelievable, I almost felt like I was seeing things). I have tried Mysis, algae sheets, algae tabs, brine shrimp, angel/butterfly formula, Spirulina and omega brine, you name it. He still goes for it but he doesn't swallow it.
<Damage from all the medications you've been chucking in, probably. Keep trying to get it to feed, with just Mysis, and try to keep yourself as small as possible. A giant hovering over a small QT tank is enough to stress anyone out>
And I also can't understand for the life of me why it still looks like there's smoke in my water. I didn't add any baking soda like you suggest and I STILL have water that looks like someone took a drag of a cigarette and exhaled into my tank, lol.
<? Your own actions.. and a clue as to why the fish is not feeding. Perhaps set up another QT tank with clean water and move the filters and fish over, acclimated>
Is this harmful to the fish? What could it be from?
<You have been using multiple medications...>
My ammonia is zero, nitrite is
zero and nitrate is below 30ppm, ph is around 8 and salinity is at about .019. <1.019, ok for the minute> Any ideas?
<Posted, or perhaps moving the fish back to the display>
After seeing how the fish reacted without medicine
<When? Never. They have not been without medication for any length of time>
I realize that there is definitely something going on. <Me too> So I went ahead and treated with PraziPro again because at this point, all symptoms lead to gill flukes.
<?? Did you freshwater dip these like you were advised to try and check? I told you that chucking medications willy-nilly into the tank could easily be your problem here, and what do you do? You chuck some more in, and not just one but two! Problems are not always unseen parasites or bacteria but quite often are the result of aquarists own actions. And you wonder why your water is smoky. Would you have much of an appetite if the air you were breathing was full of chemicals? Right now you have a starving Butterfly and a mixture of Quinine Sulphate and PraziPro in your tank. This is madness, and a pre-cursor for disaster.>
Since PraziPro is considered a very non-stressful medication I figured it would be ok on the fish.
<But your fish are sick, and you don't know why. You are taking a crap shoot approach here, and this approach more often that not kills fishes. I warned you about this>
Before I did this I went ahead and called the specialist at the company listed on the PraziPro bottle and he was also
convinced we are dealing with gill flukes.
<Did you put one under a microscope and send him a photograph? No. Did you tell him that you have already tried treating with this twice before and it has not worked? I doubt it>.
The fish have no spots, they're not flashing and the Quinine Sulfate did not help any with slowing down gill movement.
<Why would it?>
At this point, the only symptoms are rapid breathing and twitching/darting.
<They will do this anyway in a QT tank because of the stress, especially in the presence of chemicals! It is likely there are no parasites in there, especially with the cocktail of drugs you have been administering>
Simon, after two weeks of these symptoms, by this time I would see some spots or body slime if this was Velvet or Crypt. Right?
<Oh, dear. I repeat my previous advice to you and well see where we go. The biggest danger to this fish here (since ammonia/ nitrite are both zero) is the lack of food. This should be your priority. Fishes often will lose their appetite in conditions of stress and in the presence of meds. You need to remove this stress from the fish and get it to feed, otherwise it will die. It is that simple. Do this by stopping the medications, giving it some more space if possible, maybe moving back to the display via a freshwater dip. I repeat, again, the presence of medication in the water can also show these symptoms on fishes. You are your own worst enemy here. Calm down, think clearly, improve the conditions for the fish and get them to feed>
When my fish had velvet before it's almost like they "go nuts" and after about four days of that they die rather fast. This just doesn't seem to be similar to that of Velvet symptoms.....through my experience anyway. I'd like to have your input again.
<Please stop thinking about parasites, YOU are the problem. This fish needs food. Feed it>.
Thanks so much
<No problem, Simon>
Re: 02/03/10 Re: Stumped. Multiple medications, no diagnosis, not listening, ...
Wow, way to go Simon! With all that pessimism in the last email I feel hopeless and all motivation has gone down the tubes. I guess the thin Auriga will just have to die, I refuse to buy another QT tank.
<I have given you a couple of options that do not involve buying a new tank. Shall I repeat them again? Ok, here we go... 1) Remove the med, improve the conditions and get the fish to feed in QT. 2) Move the fish to the display and get it to feed there.>
I didn't pay enough money for the fish to put more money into another tank. I did everything I could do (for me).
<No, you did not. First, your lack of quarantine in the first place has introduced the parasites, followed by your 'shotgun' approach to treating with various meds without a diagnosis, followed lastly by your failure to take the advice you were given>
Thanks for the input, next time be more optimistic with someone whose asking for your advice.
<Jay, I spent a long time giving you advice here, and was happy to, over a period of days. This advice you have ignored. I have to ask myself, and you, what is the point in coming back for advice time and again if you don't bother to follow it? Am I wasting my time?>
Otherwise, like this particular situation, all goes down the tubes with your showering of negativity.
<Negativity, no. I was trying (in a blunt manner, since you had not listened up to then) to get you to see the truth of what is happening, since tip-toeing around the subject is no good for anyone. I/ we are not here to molly-coddle and be nice to you. We are here to help you with your fish problems.>
Have a good one
<Thank you, Simon>

Disease Diagnosis   11/14/09
Hello WWM Crew,
I am embarrassed to have to write you under these circumstances but I am looking for help diagnosing the problem I have going on here.
<No need/cause for embarrassment>
First, the background information. I have a 160 gallon tank with 120lbs live rock, a purple tipped anemone, two tank raised clowns and a purple tang. I have had all of this in the tank for about 3 years with zero problems. I felt it was time to add to the tank so I set up a QT tank (not sure if you can call it this, as I put live rock in, fed it with water and some substrate from the main display and let it cycle for over a month now. so really it's just a small 'other tank'). I then went to the LFS and purchased a Saddleback BF and a Raffles BF. After staring at them for almost too long in the tanks at the LFS and talking with an employee (here is where the problem starts), he convinced me that they have had these fish for a few weeks, the water isn't shared with the other thanks, they are eating just fine
<Did you see this?>
and are essentially quarantined right there in the store. So I took them home, fresh water dipped them and plopped them in my 160 gallon tank, totally ignoring the fact that I had a perfectly good QT tank beside it (yes I know. lesson learned.).
Here we are a week later, with the Raffles doing wonderfully - eating happily, swimming around with personality, picking at rocks. even happy to see me when I come around with some food. The Saddleback, however, is doing some things that I am not sure about. Last night, for the first time, I saw him rub on one of the rocks -
<Some rubbing behavior is fine>
he would line up his fin / gill area, press against it and then do a swoop off of the rock. I only saw him do this twice at that moment, and after watching them for hours, he hasn't done it again.
Another thing he did last night was move his mouth open and closed quite a bit, and do some very heavy fast breathing while staying still in the water.
He also once in a while does a body shake / shiver.
<Also natural>
He isn't nearly as active as the Raffles, and doesn't pick at any rocks.
<This is bad... this specimen is very thin... has a low index of fitness as we say in fisheries>
He also won't eat (I have been feeding Mysis). There are no signs of white specs on him, and he looks totally fine, other than maybe his gills look a little red (see attached photos). I'm thinking I am going to move him to the QT tank, treat the tank with copper
<I would not do, use this>
(obviously move the LR out before doing this) and if you think it would be a good idea, do 3 - 5 formalin dips on him.
<Perhaps one enroute to quarantine>
However, I am looking for some sort of confirmation that this is Velvet.
<Is not. If so, all your fishes would have contracted it, and likely be dead by now>
as I am now thinking that even though all the other fish are fine, they are going to eventually come down with it too.
<And your system would be infested>
Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention is that when I decided his gills were slightly red, I couldn't believe it as I can't remember the last time I have had water problems in the big tank, but I figured my ammonia or nitrite levels were high. so I did that check and everything is perfect (0 and 0). Nitrate is even fine at just above zero.
So this once again confused me (if the water was bad the other fish would be complaining too I would assume).
So first things first, based on the pictures and the actions described above, what do you think I am looking at here?
<For one, a "bad" specimen... IF it is not too inconvenient, I would simply return it to the store myself>
Is it a parasite I can be rid of by copper and formalin treatments?
<This regimen will almost certainly kill this fish in its present condition. Even when Chaetodon ephippium, actually all Chaetodontids are in excellent shape, they fare poorly if exposed to copper, formalin>
If so, I assume this means the other fish are infected as well and I should treat everyone and leave the main tank fallow for a month or two?
<Again, I don't read or see in your pix evidence of parasitic infestation>
Or should I just treat the Saddleback and see how the others fair in the meantime? Or, maybe I should see how it plays out, which means I should concentrate on getting the Saddleback to eat?
<If you can't return the B'fly, I'd try interesting it in other foods, soaked in a vitamin & HUFA prep. (liquid stimulant) like Selcon... Try adding some new/er live rock, try frozen/defrosted bloodworms, a small opened shellfish (from the human food store or Gamma brand), try even some live brine shrimp. This "upon the horse": ephippium (which for humans is a saddle) is likely just stressed from capture, handling, transport...
starved from lack of nutrition through the process. In future, I would demand that such potential purchases be fed in my presence. Please read here:
Bob Fenner>
Thank you in advance,
P.S. I apologize for my dirty tank - I haven't cleaned it since the arrival of the BFs as the Mag-float stresses them out and I am trying to avoid any unnecessary stress!

Unknown Fish Disease? Chelmon spots   11/12/07Hello there, Love the site it saved my sick sand sifting star fish (he's now in a MUCH MUCH bigger home) not to mention research here prevented me from buying a horse shoe crab my LFS was trying to push on me. Hopefully you can help me with my most recent problem for starters I'll run my tank info at ya. 50 Gallon Tank about 4 months running Remora C Protein hang on Skimmer 2 Hydor Koralia Pumps #3 850gph each 1.5" Dolomite bottom <Mmm, do replace this in time> 2" live sand bed on top of the dolomite would this be considered a plenum of sorts? <Of a sorts... but do you have the defined "gap" water space alone underneath?> probably 40 or 50 lbs of live rock good coralline coverage on pumps and back wall Water parameters: last tested 10/26 at LFS <I'd get your own kits... water chemistry changes with movement, time...> Ph 8.1 Ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 10 (was told this might be due to a 350 magnum canister filter that I have removed from the system) KH 9 Calcium 450 Salinity 1.023 Live Stock: 10 Blue leg hermit Crabs 6 Red Leg hermit crabs 3 zebra striped Astrea snails 1 turbo snail 1 gold ring cowry 1 queen fighting conch 1 Pencil Urchin 1 Cleaner Shrimp 1 long tentacle Anemone 1 anemone crab 2 emerald crabs 1 brittle starfish brown How's the cleaning crew look? light heavy? <A mix... I'd keep your eye on the Mithraculus> 1" colony of star polyps 1" colony of Zoanthids 1" Florida Ricordea Fish: 1 green mandarin (he eats live brine, frozen Mysis, and chilled ArctiPods along with the live pods on my LR) My current worry is my only other fish a Copper band butterfly <Hard to keep in small tanks like this> he has 3 black spots on the very edge of his pectoral fin and one black spot on the farthest back edge of his dorsal fin I've searched your site for black spots but all I can find is black Ich these spots are about the size of #2 pencil lead seemingly MUCH larger than the pictures of black Ich I've found they haven't spread or moved but just hold on. He hasn't shown any signs of rubbing against anything or discomfort he's still eating an lot of Mysis shrimp he never ignores it so I just feed him a few minutes worth and leave it at that. <I would... do nothing overt here... The spots could be "just coloring"... melanism from?...> He won't stay still long enough for my cleaner to go near him I don't think it's a lazy cleaner because it loves to pick at my fingers. I'm nervous that these black spots have the potential to spread to my mandarin I haven't set up a QT tank yet Any ideas what these might be? Please help <Not likely at all to be a spreading problem> I'm also considering in the future a black false percula clown and a flame angel I don't want to overload the system though does it sound ok to you? Thanks, Very nervous <Don't be... Do start planning re where you're going to put the new, larger system... You've got the bug, not the Chelmon. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Unknown Fish Disease? Chelmon spots    11/14/07 Hello again! I didn't properly proof read my E-mail and there was a miscommunication here on the Copper band spots. I'm terribly sorry... They aren't really spots but have the size of small black ants attached to the fins. <I see them...> 3 on the pectoral and one on the tip of the dorsal I've enclosed two pictures hopefully they're high enough quality and yet small enough to meet your standards. <Yes... good images... Don't appear to be "organismal"...> here are some interesting bits of info that might or might not help. The fish seems to have a very minor case of Ich on the fins that do not have these black things on them but no sign of white spots on the pectoral that has them. I can't seem to get a closer shot then the one I'm sending you and they have shown no signs of movement it might be my imagination but it seems like one has actually "fragged itself" with 3 tiny spots next to it that I did not notice before but I might be more paranoid now than before. Please help, Sincerely Confused <Again... I do think these are random bits of melanization... perhaps this specimen was physically whacked, as with a net... even dropped to the ground at some time. They could be from an accidental run-in with the Zoanthids. I would leave it as is... not subject the specimen to medication, moving... the marks will likely fade over a long period of time... though a purposeful cleaner might well remove them post haste... Maybe a Lysmata species. Oh! I see you list a cleaner shrimp below. Hopefully these will partner. Bob Fenner>

Auriga Scratching  9/27/07 Hello Bob & Co, I come to you guys more often than I take my kids to the doctor!! My Auriga which is the only fish in my 60gal/60lbs/skimmer/FBD tank is scratching a lot and shaking her face. She tries to scratch around the area behind her eyes. No sign of white spots and she eats very well. I have a cleaner shrimp in the tank as well. I have a 10 gal QT tank. What should I do? 1. Dip/Bath and then to QT? 2. Lower SG of QT and then let him sit there for a while? 3.Copper etc? 4. Other? As always, thank you for all your help. -Gans <4... just observe for now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Auriga Scratching  9/30/07
Hi Bob, He was still scratching as of yesterday. Today he is acting very lethargic. Just hanging out in one place or the other without swimming much. Not his usual self for sure. Still takes food and eats it all. No spots or anything else in the body that I can see. Should I still stay put and observe? Thanks! Ganz <Yes. RMF>
Re: Auriga Scratching 10/1/07
He didn't make it Bob! Found him dead this morning. I am 2 1/2 months into this hobby and am off to a rough start. Killed 2 Henis by having them in a 10 gal qt tank, now the Auriga . Pretty depressing! Not sure if I should continue. If I do, should I wait a month before I add anything to the tank? <A good idea, yes> I just have snails, crabs and a shrimp in there. Thanks for all your help! Cheers Gans <Convert, re-direct the energy, feeling into progressive activity... READ before buying... BobF>

Need Help with Diagnosis: Copperband Butterfly 09/17/07 I purchased a Copperband Butterfly fish on Friday (9/14) from an online vendor. I noticed some redness on the bottom right and left sides of this fish today (Sunday, 9/16). The eyes and fins are clear. I have pics of this fish located here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7329275@N05 <Bad scrape... likely a thrashing with being roughly netted in the wild...> The fish is not eating yet, prolly still recovering from his trip. Is this a viral or bacterial issue? Is this something that can be treated? If so, with what? <May become bacterial... No "treatment" suggested other than good care...> The other fish in the tank <... this fish was not quarantined? Mistake> are a pair of cinnamon clownfish and a gold spotted Rabbitfish. The clownfish have been in the tank for 2.5 months and the Rabbitfish for one month. they are healthy and are eating vigorously. Salinity- 1.024 Nitrates-0 Ammonia-0 Nitrites-0 Calcium-420 Alk-3.43 Temp 80.6 Any advice and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks
<Read... on WWM re Chelmon care... Bob Fenner>

My Copperband, a new addition, has developed two white patches   2/1/06 on its left side. Please see attachment. Please advise if you can identify what this may be and how to treat. Thanks, Tom <Is trouble... could be protozoal and/or bacterial/pathogenic in nature. This fish is (too) skinny, and this is likely a factor here as well... There are a few "things" you might do to bolster its immune system, indirectly curing the apparent complaint... Soaking foods in vitamin et al. prep.s... offering foods with more caloric content, adding purposeful cleaner/s... Without these changes this animal will perish (sooner). Bob Fenner>

Follow-on from sick Chelmon   2/3/06 Contagious and or a risk to fellow tank inhabitants? <Potentially... yes. Depends on what the root cause/s are, what "it" actually is... Copperbands "break down" much easier... on a sliding scale than other fish groups... the hyperinfectivity this inspires can be trouble, contagious... Bob Fenner>

Re: Lemon Butterfly only using one gill Can't find the exact answer to my question in the faq's, if that's what your trying to tell me  <Strange...I remember typing...Well here goes again.> Yes he's brand new and he's in a 20g QT tank with malachite green. <Ah, good!>  Should I do something else, or is this medicine good? <A good start and possibly all that you will need>  I should be concerned? <Safer than assuming all is well.>  Is this fatal? <Possibly. I don't mean to scare you here, but that is what the QT is for. Now you've noticed something worth monitoring. I would advise you to research all of the possibilities here as you will need a positive ID to know what you need to do. Without this you can mistreat/harm your fish through good intentions. Some things merely start in the gills, then get worse; others stay in the gills and cause suffocation. Check here and the links, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm . Much to review but it should help.> Thanks again <Welcome and sorry for the blank response earlier. - Josh>  <<Editor's note: This does happen from time to time - if you receive a blank reply, do look in the next day's FAQs to see if it's been posted there.  This query and response was posted yesterday, click on the TBPFAQs page and you might find the original response there.  Marina>>
Re: Lemon Butterfly only using one gill
Hey Josh no problem man, I appreciate your competence! <I hope I deserve the kind words, and thank you.>  I have formalin, malachite green, and Cupramine at home. Obviously, I don't have much time as I just read on the FAQ's. <Can't give up. Remember to keep a cool head and not get "too experimental".>  So, which medicine would be most beneficial and work the fastest in killing these parasites?  <I must confess here that I've been beyond lucky in this realm. Despite all of my ignorance starting out, I've never had one sick fish! Hence all I say here now is from my "studies". This is important to get right so I will ask Bob to confirm/correct this.>  Seems B/F's are more sensitive to these gill problems (flukes, parasites, one-gill movement, etc.). Any suggestions on trying new things, I don't want him to die.<People beat this all the time.> If you were me, what would YOU do in this situation? <Here goes... if this fish hasn't worsened then I would probably do a f/w dip/bath. Praziquantel @1ppm is the other popular choice I believe. After these I would just observe and hope that it was over before trying more. Sorry I don't have more hands on experience here but hopefully someone else will chime in.> Josh, thanks again, greatly appreciated!!! <Wish I could do more. - Josh> <Mmm, I encourage you both to peruse the Butterflyfish Disease FAQs... I do agree with Josh's input here. Bob Fenner> 

Unexplained death... rates of mortality, expectations  9/25/05 Hello all, <Mark> I am having a very difficult time 'getting the hang' of this saltwater aquarium thing!  I have been reading your many articles for many weeks now  and thought I was making good progress - until this morning.  I awoke to  find my 3.5" Punctato Butterfly at the bottom pretty motionless except when he  dart about from time to time without any equilibrium. I have had him for 19  weeks to the day.  He has always eaten well.  I feed him Formulae 2  and Mysis shrimp. <Like most all Butterflyfishes, this one does often "die mysteriously", usually overnight> I watch my fish regularly and he was acting normally the night  before.  His coloration is still perfect.  I cannot see any signs of  disease.  The only thing out of place is his tail fin with a very small  tear.  The only other fish in the tank is a Firefish. I was just  getting ready to begin purchasing live rock to slowly add before buying more  fish. <Mmm, would have been better to have had the LR first/ahead of time>   My water parameters are all near perfect (nitrite, nitrate,  ammonia=0, Ph=8.2, 79F, SG=1.22) <Better to keep SPG near 1.025> I use RO water. I have a 75 gal. tank with Eheim  2217 filter, Aqua C Remora Pro and UV sterilizer.  I have 1.5" of aragonite  substrate. I set the tank up about 9 months ago. <Some folks would say to keep the substrate thinner or decidedly deeper> Possible problem(s).  I bought 10 very small (pea sized) hermit crabs,  2 snails and a 1.5" emerald crab last week as a cleaner crew to help with my   algae.  I netted them and placed them directly into my display tank as I  was told they do not carry any diseases that can harm my fish.  Could  they have brought a disease that could kill this quickly? <Possible, but unlikely> Could the  emerald crab have done something to the butterfly overnight to injure him in  such a way to cause this condition? <Probably not> I am having serious doubts whether I can continue trying to get things  right and spend additional dollars on live rock etc. as I have  over $1700 invested so far and essentially nothing to show for my  efforts or expense.  Can you tell me something to encourage me or explain  what might have gone wrong? Help, Mark <Mmm, general stress... but/and something very important to impart to you re the "general survivability" of marine fishes... period, this BF in particular... Most fishes don't live for a month or two... BF's likely less than a month (really... though most are "bumped off" rather than dying from pathogenic causes)... 19 weeks is a good long time relatively... Bob Fenner>
Re: Unexplained  death... rates of mortality, expectations...  9/26/05
Thanks for your Saturday reply (do you ever take a day off?), <Mmm, not often> A few follow up questions.  I want to slowly increase my salinity from  1.021 to 1.025 per your suggestion. I figured I would do it during regular 15%   water changes. Is there an accepted 'formula' based on tank size and  current salinity that will guide me on knowing about how much and what salinity  I can replace to rise the overall tank salinity by one  one-thousandth? <A proportionality problem... V1/spg1 = V2/spg2... > I suppose I could just replace with 1.025 each time but if  you have a different method I would be interested to learn. <Easy to "do the math"> Since my tank only has the one Firefish and one emerald crab I decided to   add live rock as my budget allows (10 lbs per month or so) after curing   according to WWM's recommendations before buying any new fish.  During  this painfully slow process, I will be researching various fish for the future  FOWLR tank. <Good> Is there software, website or a database of some kind  available that tabulates many of the more basic fish criteria for quick sorting  so I can more easily isolate the kinds of fish I can keep and exclude ones that  are not an option for me (i.e. minimum tank size, food types, and gross  compatibility - <None that I've seen that are accurate, useful> I understand there is a large gray area regarding compatibility  but there are also lots of absolutes that need to be avoided).  Information  like this would be very helpful while deciding about the many, many options out  there.  I keep falling in love with a fish only to find I can't keep it due  to my tank size, overall capability (i.e., beginner) or other fish I  want/have etc. <This "data accumulation" is (actually, for me) some of the "most fun" part of the hobby... I like to "find things out"> Finally, I was very surprised to read your statement about general   survivability of marine fishes - specifically  "most fishes don't live for  a month or two". <"Is a fact Jack"> Are you saying that even if I were to approach your  knowledge of marine fish keeping (LOL) I will still experience regular die-off  every couple of months? <Mmm, perhaps a few to several months...> This will be a hard sell to my spouse and  potentially a deal-breaker.  Any help/clarification on this topic will be  very appreciated! Mark   <Just a historical fact that I thought was pertinent. Bob Fenner>

Cyanided Copperband? - 03/31/2005 Hello, <Ahoy, thar, Rob! Sabrina here, this fine evening.> A couple of months ago I emailed you about my success with a Copperband butterfly in my 90 gallon reef tank. In fact you guys posted on your website, very cool.  <We do try to post everything! Thank you for sharing your experience with us before; I hope we can be of service now....> I have a question though. How do I determine if a fish has been caught by cyanide? <This can be extremely difficult to determine with any certainty.... Location of collection may shed some insight; I believe a fish can be necropsied after death to discover if cyanide poisoning did it in or not....> <<Editor's note: In general, not always, Indo-Pacific fishes may be suspect.  If not collected with cyanide, may have been exposed via run-off, downstream of mining operations.>> For the last two months this same Copperband has been eating everything in sight, Mysis, bloodworms, squid, clam - pretty much whatever I put in the tank but for the last 2 weeks he seems to be getting thinner by the day.  <So, he's eating heartily, but he's losing weight? A few possibilities here, including cyanide poisoning.> I feed my fish 2-3 times a day and I vary their diet. I have quite a variety of fish in there. My water parameters are pretty much where they need to be, ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 0, ph - 8.3.  <Salinity? Alkalinity? Tank size? Other fish? Most recent addition? Were all additions quarantined?> I have been observing the tank for several days and nights to see if other fish are harassing the Copperband causing it stress but none seem to be. There are no signs of parasites, fungus or bacterial infection.  <Mm, actually, the fact that the fish is losing weight despite an obviously hearty appetite is a strong sign of internal parasites. Can't see 'em when they're on the inside, after all. It might also be an indication of mycobacteriosis, an essentially incurable internal bacterial complaint. Other signs of mycobacteriosis are deformations of the spine, possibly clouded/frayed fins, small lumps/granulomas, or bloating. Let's hope, for now, that it's not mycobacteriosis, and not cyanide poisoning, as there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do about those. Let's turn to the possibility of internal parasites, and explore that a bit.> I have many years experience with saltwater fish and inverts but I have not seen this before. This Copperband seems to be wasting away no matter how much he eats and he eats a lot. What should I be looking for?  <At this point, let's hope for the best. If you have access to a high-powered microscope, collect a fecal sample from the fish and take a look. You will probably need help from a university biology professor, or a veterinarian, with this, unless you have a lot of confidence in making a diagnosis. If you don't seek the help of someone of that nature, then try to get a hold of "Handbook of Fish Diseases" by Untergasser, "Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment" by Noga, or other book with good, accurate microscopic photographs of what to look for in the way of internal nasties. Mostly, you'll want to determine first if there IS anything in those guts, and secondly whether it's protozoan or a nematode, trematode, or cestode taking residence in the fish. If it seems that you're dealing with a protozoan, I would suggest treating with Metronidazole in food, as the fish is still eating. If you find signs of nematodes, Trematodes, or Cestodes, I would try treating with Piperazine or Levamisole in food. Now, if you DON'T have access to a good microscope, or vet, or good book, or you simply don't feel confidant with your findings, you could treat with Praziquantel in food, which should handle any of the above nasties - but you'll probably need a vet's help in obtaining this. Metronidazole, Piperazine and Levamisole are easily available in the aquarium trade, and can even be purchased already in foods. You might take a look at http://www.flguppiesplus.com ; I know they have some medicated foods available.> I have to admit I am getting ticked off at the thought that he may have been caught with cyanide.  <I would be, as well. I'd be infuriated.> The fish store that got him in for me guaranteed he was not but you never really know do you?  <Unless you feel you can trust the fish store, and they the wholesaler, and they the transshipper, in collection location, and you know that location does not permit collection via cyanide, then no, you really can't know. And even when the stars ARE in alignment, and you DO know the entire history of the fish, well, I'm sure it's just not possible to be absolutely 100% certain. Sadly, it is entirely possible that this IS the problem with your fish. I've still got my fingers crossed that it's a perfectly fixable situation, though.> I would appreciate any thoughts on the matter.  <And there you've got 'em. If you need further treatment information, the two books that I mentioned have great suggestions for treatment and dosages. Do try to look the books up, if you have the opportunity.> Thanks, Rob Mancabelli Syracuse, NY <Wishing you and your Copperband well, -Sabrina>

Butterfly With Cloudy Eyes Hello. <Hi there! Scott F> I just purchased a Raccoon Butterfly and noticed after putting him into my tank that he has cloudy eyes, in both eyes. The dealer I bought him from just got him in yesterday. <Yikes! Next time, please be sure to quarantine ALL new arrivals without fail, okay...?> I've read cloudy eyes can be symptoms of general stress, water poisoning or even fish lice. <Usually, they are positive signs of some sort of parasitic infection. Ich and Amyloodinium come to mind. Of course, this could also be a sign of the fish being kept in very poor water conditions. If you see other symptoms, do take immediate action> I'm gonna just let him be for a few days before even thinking about a freshwater bath or medication. Any other thoughts, suggestions, comments??? <I do like your idea of not rushing into a treatment that may be more dangerous than the illness that you're treating. I'd observe for a couple more days. If further symptoms don't arise, then you might have dodged a bullet! On the other hand, if the fish is deteriorating, do take appropriate actions to treat it. Maintain very high water quality in this tank, make sure that the fish is eating regularly, and observe him carefully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Identification of problem with Klein's butterfly.... >Hello, >>Hello Melissa, Marina here. >I purchased my Klein's (butterfly) from reputable LFS on 3/8/03.  I took it home on 3/15/03. The transfer was slightly traumatic as the LFS employee dumped fish onto towel instead of transfer bag. >>OOPS!   >It was quickly put into large transfer bag (with plenty of room to turn around and taken home. However, fish calmed and has been eating regularly after being transferred to my QT tank. >>I absolutely, positively LOVE hearing that folks are using quarantine tanks!  Good on ya. >Yesterday, my spouse noticed an abrasion (?) just under rear dorsal fin on right side only.  It is slightly pinkish in color.  These are current tank conditions: 20gal Long 28 Watt 50/50 Coralife Compact Fluor (12 hours daily) Fluval 304 Canister 301 Powerhead Bare bottom tank w/2-3 lbs. well cured live rock 1.022 Gravity Ammonia  0 Nitrite  less than .2 but not clear Nitrate  less than 10 ppm Alkalinity 5.0 meq/l PH 8.2 3 Green Chromis tank mates. >I need some help to diagnose this problem as abrasion (treat w/stress coat product), fungal, bacterial, parasite? I appreciate your help.  Melissa >>Ok, I've seen the picture, it's not clear, but it does appear to be an abrasion.  Because you're still getting nitrite and nitrate readings the fish will have a bit more difficulty healing.  You can help by doing more water changes till you at least get those nitrites to zero (you didn't mention which test kit you're using).  Also, if you're not already, begin soaking the fish's food in vitamins, I like Selcon.  If you're really worried, you could begin a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Melafix or Spectrogram (this is the broad spectrum antibiotic used at the LBAOP as a matter of course, for both fishes and inverts--go figure!).  You'll have to remove any carbon, should you be using it, when you medicate.  Good luck!  Marina

Re: Identification of problem with Klein's butterfly.... >Thanks for the prompt reply which prompted another comment and questions.   >>You're welcome.  Lay it on me. >I am using Fastest tests by Aquarium Systems.  Since I have slight readings on Nitrites/Nitrates (I thought under 10ppm was acceptable for Nitrates) should I feed less (currently they receive just enough for them to clean up 1 - 2 times daily).  I will do more water changes as well. >>No, I wouldn't feed less.  Also, I'm not too familiar with the quality/reliability of this test kit, I am very comfortable with Salifert or SeaChem, though.  Zero nitrates is the goal no matter what fish you're keeping. >>Also, since Butterfly fish need excellent water quality should I add a protein skimmer to the quarantine tank since he must be in residence another 3 weeks? >>If you're getting one of the two species known as Longnose (Forcipiger longirostris or F. flavissimus) they aren't as touchy as some species.  Also, Copperbands are forgiving.  You could add the skimmer, or go with frequent water changes instead. >I appreciate your help!  I love your site. >>Glad to be of help, Melissa.  Spread the word!  Marina  (One of my sisters is named Melissa.) Melissa

BF In Trouble My Punctato butterfly doesn't look OK he is breathing fast and he has what looks like blood on his mouth and he is swimming with his face up struggling and bumping into everything what should I do is there a way to save him or is he a goner? <well- I hate to be overly pessimistic here, but the blood in the mouth is indicative of several possible problems, including malnutrition (starvation), metabolic poisoning, and possibly some sort of collection or other trauma. In general, Butterflyfishes that display these sort of symptoms are difficult, if not impossible to save.  Review all water chemistry parameters, husbandry techniques, and possible sources of trauma. There could be a heroic effort on your part, utilizing a separate aquarium, administration of vitamin preparations, intensified feeding, and possibly, antibiotics, if you're dealing with possible disease symptoms as well. More often, unfortunately, these types of symptoms usually indicate that a fish is beyond saving...Don't give up on this fish, though...Keep trying, and maybe you'll have some success! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>     

Raccoon scratching face on rocks? My newest addition (a lunula) has been scratching just his face area the last couple of days. I have had him 5 days and he has not eaten yet.  <a quarantine tank is the single most important piece/assembly of equipment to have for good husbandry... all new fish and sick fish go into it for 2-4 weeks. It saves money and lives. Could have helped this situation. Do research the articles and FAQs on this site for guidance> I tried the variety of foods you recommended, I will just have to be patient. I did a 5 minute freshwater dip when I first got him & I see no other fish scratching, yet? Steve Tilotta <very glad to hear about the FW dip. Scratching can be from water chemistry or gill parasites. If water quality tests OK, do more FW dips with the assumption of an impending parasite outbreak. A QT tank would be best in case meds are needed. Do try Sweetwater Plankton (glass jar) or a live freshwater mussel (cracked open shell) to entice the feeding. Best regards, Anthony>

Help - what kind of fish disease is this? Mr. Fenner, Yesterday evening when I came home from work, I found my Threadfin (auriga) Butterflyfish has something strange - the "root" part of both of its pectoral fins (the joint between the fin and the body) is very red. I've had this fish for about a year. It is swimming and eating as usual. This occurred overnight. What is this? What should I do about it? <Very likely an indication of infectious activity (bacteria) from a physical trauma (if one sided... if both pectoral bases affected would be inclined otherwise). I would do your best to keep the system optimized and stable, and supplement this fish's foods with a vitamin and iodide preparation (such are made/sold for the purpose, or you can make your own). Please read over the "Tank Troubleshooting" and especially "Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health" sections and beyond on our site starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason
Re: Help - what kind of fish disease is this?
The red is on BOTH sides. uniform around the joint. like you said, it doesn't look like physical injury. What others could this be? <Sorry about the mis-read. Would look into water quality first/foremost here. This and most Butterflyfishes are often the first fish livestock to show the affects of something/s anomalous. Bob Fenner> thanks, Jason
Re: Help - what kind of fish disease is this?
I checked water parameters: ammonia = 0 nitrite = 0 nitrate = 40 pH = 8 temperature = 82F alk = 3 meq/L as I haven't done water change for a while, I did a large water change (10g of 55g tank). I read your web site. It seems like some internal infection. I have antibiotics Furan-2 (for both gram-positive and negative) and a 10g hospital tank. But I am debating whether it's best to treat the fish: The fish  <for browsers a Chaetodon auriga, Threadfin Butterfly> swims and eats fine, no other symptoms. Given the stress of catching it, moving a 4" fish to a 10g tank, and the danger of antibiotics killing biofilter and cause ammonia spike which could indeed kill the fish, is it better off just to stay in the main tank? <IMO yes> What's the chance of the fish fighting off this disease by itself? <Some... depends really on the root cause/s... your nitrate is a bit high, might be contributing to the problem... do you have live rock, some macro-algae you could place in the system to reduce this, improve water quality overall?> Please help me make this decision before it's too late. <I would do what was stated before: I would do your best to keep the  >>system optimized and stable, and supplement this fish's foods with  >>a vitamin and iodide preparation (such are made/sold for the  >>purpose, or you can make your own). And add a biological cleaner. Bob Fenner> Thank you!

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