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FAQs about Bristletooth Tangs, Genus Ctenochaetus Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Bristlemouth Tang Disease: Ctenochaetus Disease 1, Ctenochaetus Disease 2,
FAQs on Bristlemouth Tang Disease by Category:
Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic
(plus see Tangs/Rabbitfishes & Crypt), Genetic, Treatments

Related Articles: CtenochaetusNaso

Related FAQs: Ctenochaetus Disease 2, Tangs/Rabbitfishes & Crypt, Ctenochaetus Tangs 1Ctenochaetus Tangs 2Ctenochaetus Identification, Ctenochaetus Behavior, Ctenochaetus Compatibility, Ctenochaetus Selection, Ctenochaetus Systems, Ctenochaetus Feeding, Ctenochaetus Reproduction, Surgeons In General, Tang ID, Tang Behavior, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Disease,


Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Tomini Tang Twitching      6/5/14
Hi Bob,
Would you be kind enough to tell me what you would do in this situation?
I have a 2.5 inch Tomini Tang currently in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. When I first saw him, he had some damage/scratches/sores on one side,
<Likely from capture, handling... perhaps from unsuitable tankmates>
but I had been looking for a Tomini locally for some time, and decided to buy him anyways. The sores resolved completely without my help after 1-2 weeks, and the fish LOOKED perfect. I have been feeding it Mysis, Spirulina/brine shrimp combo, and Nori, and it’s been eating well.
<Ah good>
The fish is extremely skittish,
<As are all tangs when small... and easy prey>

making it very difficult to observe before it darts into it’s PVC pipe. However, I noticed from the beginning it would periodically twitch its head and rapidly flick its dorsal fin down, then raises it only to flick it close to the body again.
<Natural behavior>

Most of the time the fin is normally extended.
I don’t believe this is a display-type behaviour in response to seeing its reflection, as it does the same thing when the room is brightly lit, and a reflection absent, as in a darkened room.
Even though it has never shown any flashing/scratching behaviour, and was breathing normally, I suspected it may have flukes. I am now into the 7th week of quarantine, and last week decided I would try treating with PraziPro. The first few days of treatment were uneventful, but I hadn’t seen any cessation to the behaviour.
After 6 days, I did a water change and treated again. This time, the fish seemed bothered by the treatment. Gill movements increased frequency, and it would periodically extend it’s mouth as if yawning. It has been 3 days now since the start of the 2nd dose, the fishes breathing has improved somewhat, but still faster than before, it continues to twitch as it always has, and continues to eat well. I’m in a bit of a conundrum. Is the rapid gill movement and yawning due to the Prazi, or parasites?
<Could be either or both>
Is the twitching due to a pathogen, or just a fish with a weird habit?
<Again; some such twitching is to be expected... may have survival value... displaying the animal as unsuitable, less suitable as a food item. There are many "twitchy" marine organisms... the "wormy" gyrations of juvenile grunts/sweetlips, coughing of anglers/frogfish...>
I’m thinking that under the circumstances I have little to gain by keeping the fish in quarantine beyond this 7th week, and treating with Prazi again.
What do you think is the prudent course to take?
<Move this fish; perhaps through a pH adjusted freshwater bath to the main/display system>
I was careful not to introduce (known) pathogens into my 120 gallon reef, which only houses 3 fish, and don’t want to change that, especially since this guy will probably be the last addition. Suffering paralysis by analysis!
<I understand; fully>
Thanks very much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tomini Tang Twitching    6/28/14

Hi Bob,
I had written you about 2-3 weeks ago about a small Tomini Tang I had in a 10 gallon quarantine for what was at the time, about 6-7 weeks. My concern was that though I never saw anything unusual on his body---outside of some scrapes when I first purchased him, which healed up within a few days---he would frequently shake, and twitch. During that time I did 2 treatments with PraziPro thinking it could be flukes. He seemed quite stressed by the treatment, and afterwards showed no change in behaviour.
<About par for that course>
After consulting with you, I left him in quarantine for another week, and finally added him to 120 gallon reef display, that houses 3 other fish. He seemed very happy swimming all over the tank. He quickly befriended my Royal Gramma with whom he frequently swims, though now my Gobies won't come out
due to fear...
<Just give them time>
but that's not why I'm writing. He's been in the tank about 2 weeks now, and will swim normally and then suddenly fire off like a bullet, shake spasmodically, and then resume to normal swimming.
<Not unnatural... Tangs and other fishes do this in captivity and the wild>
I have also noticed a single white spot on his belly just below his pectoral fin, which has been
there for 3 days.
<Eh! No worries>
There don't seem to be any other markings, and I have never seen him scratch against objects.
Now, I don't think a single spot necessarily means Ich, especially after not showing any physical signs for nearly 2 months, but together with the strange behaviour, this has me worried. Disassembling the rockwork to catch my fish for treatment seems extremely "unappetizing", but also premature at this point until I see some other signs...but I'm wondering what your thoughts are. Might this pass, or is it clearly a parasitic problem?
Is there something i should do? Needless to say, I'm bummed, especially after doing things the "right" way with the long quarantine. Thanks in advance.
Thanks you,
<Patience. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Tomini Tang Twitching    6/28/14

I can't thank you enough for you quick and helpful responses!
It's almost embarrassing how concerned I can get about my livestock, and interesting how a short visit of the online reefing sites demonstrates how many others feel the same way! It's the enormous investment of time, money and energy spent researching, creating and running a system. The ups and downs...not to mention the love of nature, and attachment to our animals!
Cheers to you as well, and have a great weekend!
<Thank you Dave. BobF>

Kole tang discolored spot (can't figure this out)    3/27/06   Hello guys, hate to be a pain, but I can't figure this out.  I have read about every tang disease I can find on your site (and looked at the pictures) and I just can't come to a conclusion about this.  I have had this Kole tang for about a month, he is a very small fish 2-2.5 inches max <Is very small! Am wondering who in HI has a mist/barrier net of such small mesh/draw that would collect such a specimen> and I feel pretty good about keeping him alive up till this point since I have read any tang under 3 inches is extremely difficult to keep alive. <In general, for most species, yes> The tank is a 55 gallon with 1 false percula clown, Kole tang, cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, flower anemone, and a neon green bubble tip anemone. <Two species of anemones in this sized system is "asking for trouble"> A couple weeks ago he developed some small BB sized discolored spots (almost white do not look raised) well after a couple days they completely went away and left no holes or scares or anything, the clown seems to be absolutely fine.  Now today a new spot about the same size has appeared since last night, between his head and dorsal fin.  I work at a LFS and no one seems to know what this is.  I have been feeding him spectrum pellets... <Good product... high palatability, nutritional value> its the only thing I can get him to eat, he has no interest in dried Nori (red or green) and I have very little algae in the tank so he is probably not getting enough "veggies" but I have tried feeding him about everything under the sun and he has no interest.  I have to put the spectrum pellets on a rock to get him to eat because he is so shy.  I have also been letting some natural sunlight on the tank for a couple hours a day which I have read helps HLLE, but I don't think that's what this is. <Me neither> All of my water parameters are fine, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 2.5, phosphate < 0.5.  Since I work at a LFS I am able to do plenty of water changes to keep my water at tip top shape.  So, what do you think, is this a vitamin problem?  Sorry about the lengthy email but I wanted to make sure I included everything.  Thank you for your time and a great site. <Mmm, could "just" be stress... but the two anemones... could definitely be at play here... in efforts to "poison" each other, are likely mal-affecting your fishes. If nothing else, I would remove one of these... and soon. Bob Fenner>
Re: Kole tang discolored spot (can't figure this out)   4/1/06
  Thanks for the quick response sorry I was not able to thank you earlier...working 2 jobs 14 hours a day doesn't leave you much free time.   <Yikes! Hope your commute is short... to allow sleeping time!> I have returned the flower anemone to the store I work at and the tiny Kole tang looks all better,  once again thanks for the quick response I really appreciate it. <Ah, very welcome. Bob Fenner, who used to work long, continuous hours, and now plays about as long>

Sick Tang? Hi all, Happy Turkey Day. Sorry to bug you on the holiday but take a look at the attached pic and tell me if you think the Kole is sick and if so recommended treatment. I looked at the disease articles and could not find any pics that look like this and I don't want to treat until identified. This fish is in quarantine with sponge filter, powerhead , heater, and skimmer. I had it in the dark for the first 5 days and then put a 40w NO light on the tank (20L). It looks real pale in the am but I thought this was normal. <At times the species, actually genus and whole family will "pale" if stressed> It is swimming around, is active, fins are not clenched and breathing is not rapid. I have added some Caulerpa and Ulva and a piece of live rock, 3' PVC T. I have been feeding Mysis (never seen him eat any) and Spirulina. This it attacks violently. Whaddya ya think? Thanks in advance, Don <It does appear mostly okay to me from your pic, and very much so from your description. I am inclined to give it a clean bill of health. Bob Fenner>

Kole On The Decline? I just purchased a Kole Tang one week ago, and everything was fine except that she wouldn't eat the sea weed either from the veggie clip or when floating around the tank. The Kole Tang was eating Spirulina flakes with vigor just a few days ago. Yesterday, I noticed that she had some light blotches on her forehead and stayed completely hidden (under a large rock) and didn't come out for food at all. <Hmm, not a great sign, huh?> Her mouth was open and looked fine although I'm not sure if it was swollen. < Do confirm this with careful observation. Sometimes, Ctenochaetus tangs do occasionally suffer from "collection traumas" and other injuries to their mouths, and these visible problems should disqualify a specimen from selection for your tank. When the mouthparts of these fishes are damaged, they rarely recover. Not trying to paint a "gloom and doom" scenario here, but, based on your description, there is a possibility that the fish may be damaged in this manner..> This morning, I used a flashlight to examine her in her little cavern and it looked like maybe the white blotches might be HLLE. Since I have not seen any pictures of this on the internet I cannot diagnose properly. <Well, HLLE symptoms usually include a "pitted" appearance to the head of the fish. White blotches sound more like a fungus or a bacterial malady of some sort. It sounds to me like this fish needs to be moved to a "hospital tank" for observation and/or treatment. Do read up on the wetwebmedia.com FAQs on disease to confirm what it is you may be dealing with. With quick, decisive intervention, you may be able to save this fish (assuming that the mouth is not damaged, as discussed above).> Is it time to heat up the frying pan or can I still save my Kole? Tank specs. Tank:100GAL Sump: 40GAL (approx 17GAL full) PH: 8.3 Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 ALK:  Normal Temp: 80.5 SG: 1.024 (using the plastic Coralife Hydrometer with the arm) I do not have a grounding probe and the other fish in my tank are a blue damsel and a three stripe damsel. The tank is three months old and has approximately 30lbs of live rock in it. Thanks, Peter <Well, Peter, it sounds like your tank conditions are okay...I get the feeling that you're not dealing with HLLE here for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the very rapid onset of the symptoms. In the future, please "play it safe" and quarantine all new arrivals for a minimum of 3 weeks before releasing them into your main system. Tangs, in particular, are notorious for contracting diseases during collection, shipping, and acclimating, and quarantine gives you the opportunity to observe, "harden", and treat the fishes if necessary without incurring the added stress (for both you and the fish) of removing it from the main tank, or spreading disease to your other fishes. Take quick action with this fish...Good luck! Let us know if we can be of further assistance. Regards, Scott F>
Kole On The Decline? (Pt. 2)
Thanks for your response, I examined the Kole Tang again most of the night and she seems really slow and unresponsive. Not like when she was purchased. At this point it looks like her mouth rarely closes if at all. She did come out to eat, although not with the same vigor as last week. <The fact that this fish is eating is a good sign!> Do you know of any successful treatment if this is mouth trauma? <Well, if the mouth is damaged, it's unlikely that a medication could help. However, if the fish is "gaping" due to a bacterial infection, then a medication could perhaps work. Impossible for me to diagnose here, so you'll have to really take a look at this fish and review the disease FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com to try to verify exactly what you're dealing with. Try to verify if the mouth is actually "injured", versus swollen.> Some type of antibiotic, or, medication to help her through this? <Well, I'd go for a broad-spectrum antibiotic, such as Maracyn 2. The administration of the medication should really take place in a separate aquarium. At the very least, freshwater dips may help if you're hesitant to try a medication. This is a more manageable, but possibly less effective treatment, if a "hospital" tank is not available.>   At this point I do not have a quarantine tank set up. But after this experience I will in the future. Peter <Certainly a great idea! You'll definitely reap the rewards of this practice down the line! Good luck! regards, Scott F.>

Kole Kwestions! Hi guys, <Hey there! Scott F. your guy tonight!> I have been browsing your site for quite some time now. It is great. <Thanks for the kind words! We're glad that you enjoy it!> I have a question, which I could not find an answer to anywhere. I have a Kole Tang, which started getting some strange spots/blemishes/smears of brown color, which are not protruding or elevated. They look as if someone took a crayon and drew them on the sides and on the nose underneath one eye. I thought that they were some kind of physical damage and they would go away, but recently saw that there are some new ones. They are in no particular shape or form. He seems to occasionally bounce off the gravel (scratching as I understand), but does it quite seldom and has been doing it since I got him about a month ago without any outbreak. <Hmm...Sounds to me like it could be either some sort of trauma, as you considered, some type of harmless pigment migration, or even the beginnings of an environmentally-caused disorder called Head And Lateral Line Erosion. Usually, this "disease" can be cleared up by maintaining excellent water conditions and providing quality food. In the absence of other signs of disease or discomfort, just maintain excellent conditions and provide quality food.> My only other fish is Tomato Clown and he has no signs of these brown marks. My tank is quite new -- about 4 months. I have a persistent Brown Slimy algae (sorry I don't know the correct term) which I can't get rid of -- could that be Tang's problem? <Probably not> I am doing regular water changes and all parameters are fine. One thing that concerns me is that he has never touched Nori that I offer to him, does not accept flakes that I feed to the Clown, and did not touch broccoli -- all he eats is green algae of the glass and picks off the rocks (but there is not much on the rocks as I see it -- tank is new). Could a bad diet be the cause of the brown spots? <One of my possible theories. Please avoid terrestrial greens like broccoli, as they are minimally nutritious for marine fishes, and they can impart tremendous amounts of undesirable nitrate into the system water. Ctenochaetus species of tangs, such as your Kole, tend to rasp diatoms and liberate detritus from substrate and rocks with their specially-configured mouthparts. They are very adept at this type of feeding. You could supplement with some fresh macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, but I have found that they tend not to eat this with the same enthusiasm as other tank species. I'd avoid excessively cleaning the substrate and rocks, to give them some foraging> If yes, how do I get him to take Nori? <Personally, I have never found these species to be fond of Nori, but it's worth a shot. You can rubber band it to a rock, or attach it to a feeding clip> Are there different kinds of Nori? <Well, yes...> Could he like one type and not the other? <It is possible> Otherwise he seems active. I am attaching 2 pictures. Sorry for the long e-mail. Thank you so much! Artemia. <didn't get the attachments, Artemia, but if he appears otherwise healthy, I'd just keep an eye on the tang and go from there. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Brown Spot - Hi. The spots appear to be going away slowly BUT there is a new event. Now, at the front bottom of one side, not far from his gills he has a little tiny patch of something externally, looks kind of brownish. Very small right now so it's hard to tell. Let me know if this "sounds" like something I should watch, like a fungus....Thanks as always!! <Anything that seems foreign should be watched - I don't know exactly what this is, but can say with some certainty that this is not fungus - could be bacterial - but fungus typically only shows on fish once they are long dead and forgotten in the corner of the tank.> I tried to catch him to QT him for a little while and maybe treat him but I can't catch the little sucker... he is calm but the minute I put a net in there... he is super freak. <Might need to use two nets - one to distract and one to scoop.> I stood perfectly still at the tank with the net submerged for almost an hour hoping he'd get used to it and I could sneak up on him... didn't work. <Sometimes is does, sometimes it doesn't.> If this sounds like I should QT him, any ideas on how the heck to catch him? <Well, for now, I wouldn't quarantine, I'd just keep an eye on things. AS far as catching the fish - if you can, try to get a second set of hands in there and they can help you steer the fish into the net. If that's not an option, consider draining a portion of your tank into a trash can - with one of their degrees of freedom taken away, fish are much less creative at escape and you should be able to get scoop out the fish. Once caught and placed in the quarantine tank, you can refill your main tank and call it a day.> appreciate your advice. Heather <Cheers, J -- >

Yellow eyed-tang Hey guys, I recently bought a yellow-eye and he seems to have splotches on him and he looks like he is bouncing on the top of the water.... have you seen this before ? <Yes. Sometimes just resultant stress from shipping, handling... but can be indication of other (environmental, parasitic...) disease. Please read through www.WetWebMedia.com re the genus Ctenochaetus tangs, Tang Disease... and where you lead yourself through the linked files (at top, in blue). Bob Fenner> Paul Rawlings
Re: Yellow eyed-tang
FW dip ? I have heard of this.... Freshwater and de-chlorinate it ??? <Time to send you back... to www.WetWebMedia.com, please use the search tool (bottom left) on the homepage, with your terms "freshwater dip". Bob Fenner> Paul Rawlings

Kole Tang Hi Bob, I wrote to you recently about our Kole tang. I included the original e-mail below if you have forgotten the symptoms. <Thank you... not too feeble (well...), but do get a bunch of mail...> We have tried enhancing his diet with a new food from the vet, and soaking his food in vitamins, also. He seems to be getting worse. Now half of his body is covered with 'brown spots', and he acts like he can't breathe. He has been at the top of the water lately wedged in between the glass and heater with his mouth out of the water like he's trying to get more air. He has also been laying on the bottom of the tank on his side. I almost wish he would just die because I think he is suffering.  <...not good. If the animal is still eating at all I would not give up hope... have seen Ctenochaetus recover from huge troubles...> If you have any other suggestions, please help! We have a hospital tank set up if we needed to use it, but I don't see how putting him in it could help. <I agree... would not move this animal... As I say, if it is eating... Otherwise I would/do consider euthanizing doomed specimens... by freezing (in a bag with not much water... in the house freezer... as a humane way to end.> Thanks, Jason <Bob Fenner>

Dark spot on cheek of Yellow Eye Tang... Bob, I have a Yellow eye tang with what appears to be dark sores or spots below his eyes on both sides, on his "cheeks." I can't figure out what they are. Any ideas? Thanks, <the description is too general my friend... please look through the archives of FAQs and articles to see if you find anything similar or that helps. Regards, Anthony>

Some problems Hi Bob Fenner, <<Hi, JasonC here filling in for Bob while he is off diving in some tropical paradise>> I have a few problems I cannot find answers for on any website as of yet. My first problem (oh, alright,.... challenge :) is that I had a Kole tang (Ole - you might remember him) who was doing great in his hospital tank. After almost two months in quarantine I moved him to the main tank - 55gal, 65 lbs. live rock, 35gal. refugium, deep sand bed. I dipped him for about 5 minutes in Methylene blue, poured the royal blue water off him, then put him in his new home. For the first few days he was fine, then a few days later I noticed several scratches on him (he is the sole occupant of this tank, along with two cleaner shrimp: a common, and a fire). I watched him for a while, thinking maybe the shrimp were picking on him too hard, and I noticed that he was swimming like a crazy man, normal but FAST, FAST! He was swimming like he had taken some drugs or something. I am assuming the scratches are of his own doing, bumping into rocks and such, trying to fit into small places, etc.  <<probably a safe assumption>> I checked all parameters and they are all very good: no nitrate level, no ammonia, pH=8.2, temp=76, etc. Could he possibly just enjoying more space? He is pretty scratched up and still swimming really fast. I might mention that he had only the daylight and a small light above his hospital tank. The main tank is equipped with 4 - 96W compact fluorescent bulbs. I took two out - one daylight, one blue, and only put light on him after he was in the tank for 24 hours. Then I started a light cycle that increases by 2 hours everyday (started with the lights on for about 4 hours). Once I get to a 12 hour cycle I will put the other two bulbs in and do the same thing. Do you think the new, bright lights are making him crazy? (he eats good, swims good, just fast!) <<hmm, well, put yourself in the Koles shoes/fins - would that light regimen make you nutty? I would get it over with and just go directly to your intended light cycle - no great benefit to introducing the light slowly in this fashion.>> (Sorry this is so long) Here is my next problem: I bought a piece of rock with red algae (Fauchea sp. - I believe) about 2 months ago. It is in the refugium and was doing good until about a week ago. It has started to lose its beautiful, red color. It has begun to turn light pink, and in some places, light green. Also, the leaves, which normally look fern-like, now look matted. I have seen ferns and other plants (I am proud to say I have a HUGE green thumb) became infested with parasites which spin webs and enclose the leaves.  (This is hard to explain, but the appearance is the same in both cases.) I have also began to add ESV (?) two part buffer solution to the aquarium since I had a low alkalinity reading a couple of times. Possibly this is causing the problem? (I do pour the buffer into a high current area of the sump, no where near the refugium, or anything living). <<well, can be a number of reasons for the loss of color - do recall that these are Algae and not plants, while similar they are also different. My question to you: what is the lighting regimen in your refugium? You may want to try running your refugium lights for 24 hours [no dark cycle], if you aren't already. Also, the ESV B-Ionic [the two part you mentioned, I am guessing] is not specifically an Alkalinity buffer, but a two part calcium system, of which one part is an alkalinity buffer. If you are using the B-Ionic to merely move your alkalinity numbers, you are using it incorrectly. Are you dosing any other calcium products or Kalkwasser? As for the algae, they rely mostly on other nutrients unaffected by calcium or alkalinity.>> The next problem is the red, flatworm infestation, on which I have gotten lots of info from your website. I am going to consider getting a psychedelic goby. I do have a rock which is covered with colonial anemones in the tank. Will this or other anemones harm the goby?  <<most likely not>> Possibly this flatworm infestation is causing the problem with the red algae? Also, (just one more also) I read in Julian Sprung's Invertebrate book that some of these Acoel flatworms are toxic to fish, yet I find no refer to this on the net. Possibly the Kole tang ate one and now he is having some weird acid trip? <<considering the sheer number of different types of flatworms there are, the odds that you have the toxic type are high, so no, I don't think the Kole ate a magic flatworm. Also [I had to get in a second on myself], I'd think the only way a flatworm would compete with any algae would be over common resources/food-types - or how to say... unless it's an algae-eating flatworm, then they shouldn't bother each other.>> Please give advice, and thanks Jana <<you are quite welcome, I hope it helps. J -- >>

Surgeonfishes: Tangs for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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