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FAQs about Bristletooth Tangs, Genus Ctenochaetus Trauma

FAQs on Bristlemouth Tang Disease: Ctenochaetus Disease 1, Ctenochaetus Disease 2,
FAQs on Bristlemouth Tang Disease by Category:
Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, 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
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Flame fin Tomini tang       5/19/19
Just purchased a flame fin tang and has been in QT for 4 days. I have noticed that the fish is not eating anything, wants to but doesn't.
He/she looks to have something in its mouth.
<Mmm; a growth... from... a physical trauma? Not uncommon>
I have asked on a couple different forums but only got the usual "don't buy fish from there" instead of any type of help. The only way I can describe it is, it makes the same motions that cichlid does when it has babies in its mouth. I can't really see into its mouth since it won't face me. Doesn't scratch, but does twitch a little when it looks like its trying to keep whatever in its mouth. I wondered if it had a piece of the substrate from the store in its mouth and its stuck. It is thin and would like to see it eat something. I have been putting Nori strips rubber banded to a square frag plug and also Mysis shrimp soaked in Selcon. Any ideas or suggestions?
<To continue to try offering different foods... am a giant fan of (perhaps surprising) good quality, highly palatable dried prepared foods. Hikari and Spectrum pellets (yes)... offered a few times daily>
Thanks for any help you can give!
Stacey Reagan
<And do read on WWM re Ctenochaetus spp. foods/feeding/nutrition FAQs. Bob Fenner>

Tomini tang mouth injury      5/15/19
Good morning,
<Morning Cindy>
This Tomini tang has been in my 75-gal reef for about a year and a half with no issues. I noticed yesterday that he was hiding in the rocks and didn’t come out for Nori as usual. During last evening’s feeding he chased food and tried to eat but his mouth seems stuck open and maybe a little swollen – it’s hard to say.
<Could be a physical trauma or something stuck in its mouth>
Today he is swimming in the open in a sort of bobbling fashion. His fins are clamped (I think), he is clearly in some sort of distress. Not picking the rocks or glass at all. Tankmates are several different species of wrasse, a recently added Eibli angelfish (I have not seen the two interact much, they have avoided each other though the Eibli has been aggressive toward other tankmates), a couple clownfish. Some smaller, innocuous fish, a BTA and a mini carpet ‘nem. There are no other signs of disease – no spots, gills not red, etc. All other tankmates behaving as usual.
<How about your water quality, maintenance practices...sometimes (more than we thought) it could be environmental>
I’m concerned, clearly he’s in distress and the other fish (notably 2 of the wrasses and the angel) keep swimming by him.
<Are you sure these fish are not bothering the tang at all?>
I am hesitant to remove and stress him further unnecessarily but don’t want anyone to get hurt.
<I recommend you reduce stress by dimming the lights for a couple of days and see if condition is reverted, also try feeding with Spectrum 1mm pellets, perhaps it will be easier for the tang to swallow than the Nori until it resumes normal feeding.>
Also, if there is treatment I would initiate it but not sure what, if any.
<I wouldn’t treat, there are no clear signs of a disease.>
Please share your thoughts.
Gratefully, Cindy
<Hope this helps, Cindy. Wil.>

Re: Tomini tang mouth injury       5/16/19
Thank you for the suggestions I turned the lights down to less than half, and fed some 0.5 and 1.0 mm Spectrum. The Tomini definitely was able to get a couple of the 1.0 mm so I will continue with that for a couple of days. His swimming seems improved and his fins less clamped, so that’s good I guess.
<Ahh good>
I don’t suspect aggression from the wrasses, they have all been in the tank together since I got the Tomini well over a year ago (ish). The Eibli, however, is new and is quite the jerk.
<Could be>
I’ll be re-homing him soon. I haven’t seen him go after the tang, and the tang is quite a bit larger, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
I have been suffering coral losses for several months without knowing a cause so SOMETHING is going on regarding water quality but I’ll be darned if I can figure out what it is. I test Alk, Ca, Mg, NO3, PO4 weekly or more and they are all within generally accepted limits for a reef tank. I mailed off a test, the only really notable outliers were low Iodine and Boron and high Lithium. I am strict with my 15% weekly water changes. If there is something amiss with my water quality, I can’t find it ☹
<Have you tried with another test kit? Reagents go bad with time and give erroneous readings, temperature and salinity also play an important role in the health of corals. >
As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I will update if any changes.
<You’re welcome Cindy, do please keep us posted. Wil.>

Re: Tomini tang mouth injury     5/18/19
Happy Saturday WetWebMedia Crew,
<Happy Saturday Cindy>
Just thought I would update you, my Tomini with the injured mouth is unchanged. I turned the lights down and fed Spectrum 1.0 and 0.5 pellets. The first day he got 2 pellets but nothing since then.
Yesterday he didn't even try. He is just sort of swimming aimlessly around the tank with his mouth open. I tried to get a good look but I can't see anything wrong from outside the tank. Fortunately the other fish
are leaving him alone. He isn't emaciated yet but surely will be soon.
<Fish can go for days and even weeks without food, so I wouldn't worry about the feedings...for now>
Do you have any other thoughts?
<Yes, do you have a quarantine tank or another stable, cycled tank where you can move the tang? maybe a friend's or your LFS;...sometimes fish improve just by moving them to another tank.>
Thank you, Cindy
<You're most welcome. Wil.>

Re: Tomini tang mouth injury     6/3/19
Happy Holiday!
<Same to you Cindy!.. sorry for the delay.>
The Tomini tang I wrote about last week has not improved and is doing worse. Although he seems able to move his mouth he hasn’t really been eating. He can’t keep himself upright in the water – for a few days he was “head down” but now keeps log rolling or just going belly up. I hate to see his struggles. His abdomen is visibly bloated.
<Bloated is usually caused by something ingested or gas accumulation..>
I tried feeding food soaked with commercially available Metronidazole/Praziquantel combo in case the problem is intestinal parasites or worms, but he doesn’t seem to be able to get the food. Per your suggestion I moved him to a hospital tank. When that didn’t work I added Praziquantel to the water.
If you have any suggestions I would be very grateful.
<If you don’t see any improvement in the next few days, administer Epsom Salt; as a laxative; at 1 teaspoon per five gallons of system water.>
Thank you,
<I hope this helps, Cindy. Wil.>

Re: Tomini tang mouth injury     6/3/19
Thank you for the reply!
I did try the Epsom salt, but he died the next day ?
<Ohh...sorry to hear that. >
Thank you so much for your assistance and knowledge!
<Will be here to help anytime. Cheers. Wil.>

Ctenochaetus disease  4/27/07 Hi, <Diego> When I realized what you meant for "live in your city" it was too late, I hope I didn't look too silly. <Mmm, no> Thank you for the quick reply and the huge help. Unfortunately the Tennent Tang died while I was doing a freshwater dip to cure a great number of black spots that he had. I followed the dipping procedure but I think that something went wrong with the pH adjustment (I didn't wait enough time for the PH to adjust and when I measured the pH after the dip it had dropped to 7.6-7.8). Bad way to learn it but it won't happen the next time. After reading on your website I decided to try with a Bristletooth tang, which seems more suitable for my tank (75 Gallons). <Yes> Strangely enough my LFS has scarcity of Kole tangs and abundance of Tomini tangs. <Mmm, they likely don't buy from dealers that carry much in the way of Hawaiian imports... the "drop" this year is huge for Ctenochaetus strigosus> This brings me to my current problem. I bought the Tomini on Sunday and it is currently in the quarantine tank with a 6 line wrasse, today I noticed a big mark/bump on his side behind the pectoral fin (see pic1). I think It could be some kind of skin lesion due to him bumping into something in the tank, <Likely so> especially since on the other side it has some scratches in the same region (see pic 2). Could it be something else? Should I treat it with something? <Possibly... Nitrofurazone... see WWM re dosage, SOP> The water in the quarantine tank comes from the main system and currently is: Salinity 1023 temp 78-78.6 F pH=8.2 alkalinity=7.5-8dKH (slowly rising in the main system due to the use of Kalkwasser) Nitrites 0 Nitrates 5-10 ppm (<5 in the main system). The fish is still shy and scared but eats the enriched (Selcon) Mysis shrimp and the only odd behavior is some fast jerks to the side (this could make him bump into objects) while swimming and sometimes when he is standing still in one place. Thank you very much,
<Welcome. BobF>  

Sick Kole Tang? I picked up a Kole tang about a week ago from my LFS. I observed it for quite awhile before purchasing it and it looked (and acted) normal. About 4-5 days ago, I began noticing what appeared like "bruises" on both sides of its body and tail fin. <Yes, well shown in your photograph> These dark spots are very noticeable and I have included a picture. It is eating normal but is exhibiting what a would describe as a slight "twitch" as it swims. It is not what I thought was "flashing". It has been in a bare bottom QT (alone) since I purchased it with PVC pipe and will remain there for another five weeks (if it survives). If it is sick, I would like to treat it as soon as possible. I checked the FAQ's on this subject and found what I think is a very similar circumstance, but the diagnosis was poor water quality which was corrected by a water change. I do not think that is my problem (I checked all parameters) but did a water change just in case. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <This specimen may simply be "too stressed" by circumstances in its recent past, your handling... I would seriously consider "just" dipping and moving this specimen. Low risk of disease transmission, high risk of death otherwise. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Sick Kole Tang? Bob, sorry for the follow-up but I want to make sure I understand your suggestion. I definitely think the fish is stressed because it is quite pale in my estimation. I try not to disturb it too much. I am assuming that you mean doing a fresh water dip but when you say "dipping and moving" I am confused. Move where? The display tank? <Yes> I would hate to take that chance since I have only had the fish for ten days. Thanks again for your valuable time. I really want to try and save this beautiful fish. <Worth the risk (as stated) IMO/E. Bob Fenner> 

Ulceration on Tang Hello, <Hi Jim, MacL here tonight with you> I've got a Kole Tang that has gotten very pale and has a Brown Spot on his head and near one of it's gills. Initially, I thought it was just stressed, but after 2 weeks of observation, I've noticed the spot getting larger, and beginning to turn red from it scraping on the rocks. <Its hard to tell from the picture but it looks like its either bumped it and created an ulcer or it has some type of parasite that is trying to come through.> Tests show that my water has a PH of 8.0, 0 Ammonia and Nitrites, and 5 ppm on Nitrates, and I keep the temperature at about 82 degrees. <I'd really like to see you get the nitrates to zero.> It is eating well, but I would like to quarantine and medicate to address the problem, only I have no idea what it could be. <If you can find some medicated food that might be your best option since we know it is eating.  Thinking that it might be a parasite your best bet for the hospital tank might be to use copper, as much as I hate using it. You'll also need to use an antibiotic either in the meds as previously discussed or in the water.  I know some people who have been very successful using MelaFix although I cannot say that I have personally used it.> I've attached a photo to show you.  Please help if you can.  Thanks. <Jim, your fish is really way to light so obviously way stressed out. I think you need to do something pretty fast on this. Please let me know which way you decide to go. MacL> Jim

Tang unable to maintain balance Bob, I recently bought two Tangs (Naso, and a yellow eye Kole) to add to my 200g aquarium. Before putting them in the big tank I decided to put them in a hospital tank to give them some time to adjust to the new water without being hassled by the other fish. <Good idea> Tonight I found the yellow eye Kole laying on his side at the bottom of the hospital tank. Upon further inspection the fish is still breathing. Fearing that the problem was water quality I carefully moved the Kole tang into the sump of the big tank where he would still be physically isolated from the other fish but in a fully cycled tank. I also moved the Naso into the main tank as a precaution (he looks healthy although a bit shy). I have been keeping an eye on the Nitrates and ammonia and changing water in the tank to keep them as low as I can while the tank adjusts to the additional bio load. What is the probable cause for the tang to become sick? Is possible to save him? Thanks, Rodney Korn <<In such a large system, I discount the sudden loss of water quality as a probable (first, primary) cause... How "recent" is recent? This is little doubt an animal collected in Hawai'i (most Ctenochaetus strigosus, Koles, Yellow-Eye Tangs hail from there to the U.S.)... but I would conjecture that this animal has/had some sort of congenital defect, or suffered some unseeable trauma through the collection/shipping procedure from the wild... Not likely an infectious or parasitic situation but "something" genetic, or developmental...Bob Fenner>>
Re: Tang unable maintain balance
Thanks for the quick reply. The fish in question did not make it through the night.  <Ah yes, I intimated as much> He was purchased from FFExpress about two weeks ago. I guess I am just glad the Naso Tang is still doing well (still very shy and gets chased by a blue damsel once in a while). I figure that as the Naso grows the Blue will learn humility (the Naso is a Juv, just a little bigger than the blue). <Yes, the health of this animal is not linked to the deceased Kole> On a second, less important question, do you know of any way to catch a fish in a BIG aquarium with minimum stress to the other animals? I was thinking about moving the blue into the hospital while the other fish get acquainted. He is fast and there is lots of room for him to run to...Thank, Rodney <<About the best technique is to condition the animal not to respond (shades of B.F. Skinner, no relation). Place a net (I like the large plastic coated handle green ones) in the tank in a corner, at about a thirty degree angle (lip under water)... and casually feed the fishes over and in this site for a few to several days... leaving the net in the tank... soon, Mr. Fast Damsel will be lifted out. Bob Fenner>>

Worried (about Kole Tang appearance) Mr. F. Had a small melt down here on Saturday, the temperature in my garage where my hospital and isolation tanks (both tall 20's) are located went to 90+ degrees, the tanks themselves went to 84+ (the upper limit of the particular Hagen "on the glass" thermometer used). In the isolation tank at the was my new Coral Beauty and Cole Tang. Due to my anxiety and the necessity to play host I was not able to baby sit these new fish so I threw the dice and introduced them into my 55 gal. show tank after only a day of quarantine. <Hmm, likely what I would have done, had I had such presence of mind> The show tank: 55 gal. AGA (not reef ready) with 45 lb. of new Walt smith Fiji live rock, 40 lb. of crushed coral substrate. Fluval 304, CPR Backpack IIR (just replaced AMiracle quad mini, as good as a sea clone) <You're making my day>, 2 Rio powerheads for circulation (on the 40 watt light circuit), <Now, definitely>  one 40 watt actinic, two 55 watt PowerCompact, two False Percula Clowns and two Blue Devil Damsels two Hermits, five Turbo. Snails. I use the Aquarium Pharm. tap water filter for make up water and mix-up water (aged one week) for weekly four gal. changes. The coral Beauty looks great, if I could have only one fish this is the one. I am worried about the tang. He/She now looks mottled or scratched, I think it has scraped itself hiding behind the rocks. Tang has a good appetite, I have seen it eat. Just looks like it danced with a bus. No "other" sign of disease, no torn fins, no itch or mucus, Bright alert eyes, the only other thing is it's almost always hiding, dashes away when it sees me (I'm not taking the hiding personally, I'm not the best looking fellow but I don't think I've been scaring away my fish). Any procedure or additive to help the Kole? <This fish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, is a real tough survivor type... and I have seen some very "rough" ones in captivity and the wild... And had many "bad shipments" totally rally in a few weeks time. If it's still eating fine, do possibly add some vitamin and iodine solution to its foods, otherwise just try to be patient... You will likely experience a similar "rebirth" of this ugly duckling tang. Bob Fenner>

Chevron pop-eye Hello again Mr. Fenner, Sunday I added a 2" Chevron tang to my main tank. The first couple of days were almost constant jousting w/the 2.5" flame angel. The RedSea Sailfin has pretty much left the tang alone. The tang had pop-eye that seemed to have partially peeled off (like sunburn peeling) late yesterday afternoon. I was thrilled that he was healing so rapidly. <This is a great aquarium species... the peeling was likely originally due to a scrape with a net.> I've been soaking food in Zoa« & Zoecon. Well, this morning the clear part of his eye has turned to a grayish black glob & I'm wondering if he may have bumped it in the night or is this the final "shedding" of the bad eye. <Could be either...> Also, his fins have become shredded from the jousting, but seem to heal overnight. I purchased some Melafix but have not added it to the tank because the tang looked so good last night. I just noticed that the flame now has a slight cloud on his left eye. What do you suggest? <Patience, the continuing use of the vitamins> Remove one of the fish, treat w/the Melafix or let nature take its course? I do have 2 cleaner shrimp in the tank. Will they help w/the pop-eye? <Yes, indirectly> On another front, SUSHI, my brother got word from his tank builder that his new 180g may not be ready until the 7th of Nov, instead of the 2nd. We will know Friday if the tank will be ready on the 2nd. I plan on coming down from Las Vegas when the tank is ready. If you can't make sushi on the 2nd, possibly the following weekend. I will let you know when I know if you are still interested in spicy scallop hand rolls. As before, you are still welcome to stay @ my brothers place in Newport. <Thank you. Please keep us informed. Am still hoping to be out of here, in Taveuni/FJ then... Bob Fenner>
Re: Chevron pop-eye
Mr. Fenner, You are quick! Yes the Chevron is a beautiful species & seems to be holding his own in the tank. He was a birthday gift from my brother & I hate to see him in such shape. I noticed in a few q&a's that you mentioned that you added Zoa« or Zoecon or Selcon directly to your system weekly. How much would you recommend for a 50g tank. <About a teaspoon> I'll keep you informed about next weekend. Thanx again. Craig Citro P.S. Where in the world is Taveuni??? <Ah, the Garden Isle of Fiji, in the South Pacific... to the east of Fiji's principal northern island. Bob Fenner>

Eye Abrasion Mr. Fenner You sir have a astounding web site. <Getting better all the time> I came across it about three months ago and it has given me a far better look at the balance required for a working marine aquarium. I don't think my tank (90gallon FOWLR/soft & hard coral but no so reef) has ever, in it's two years, looked this beautiful. Thank you! <A pleasure my friend> I hope you will lend me some advice about a problem I am having with my Chevron Tang. About three weeks ago I noticed a small scratch above her left eye. Not large at all. I kept up on my water quality and since she was eating and behaving well I just let her be. By the next week the abrasion grew in area. It became streaked red, extending around her eye and down towards her month. I lowered the SG slowly and started adding vitamins to her food (Nori, grape & red fern Caulerpa). Today her eye just looks hideous. I am cretin it has become very infected. The whole eye has become encrusted and almost looks like a boil has formed. I live on the outskirts of Anchorage Alaska, and getting to a LFS is a possibility but their knowledge of what to do is limited (I have called seeking advice). My gut feeling tells me that it needs to be lanced and drained (oh, will move her to QT tomorrow). She is eating well and by all means she does act normal. I feel that her fate is not good if something is not done. Can you suggests a course of action?  <Yes... a practical and likely fruitful course of action I would take is to carefully (two nets, maybe a friend with one to help) net this specimen, hold it gingerly and daub the infected area with a mercuric disinfectant (mercurochrome, Merthiolate, Merbromin) as for a cut for humans and a cotton swab... This may have to be done every other day twice or three times... Otherwise to continue as you have with the foods, vitamin solution. Don't lance the growth above the eye for now.> I will be able to order 48hr delivery from any e-tailor any supplies that might be needed. Your help would be very welcome!! Any other information can be sent right away. I will give the specifics of the tank below. Thank you for the chance to save my friend. She has been with my for two years and has quite a personality. :) Carl D. Tank: 90 gallon, glass w/ 30 gallon sump w/ refugium 380 watt PC lighting AquaC Skimmer 100lbs Live Rock & 3" DSB Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate trace, Alk 3.4, Ca 425, 78*, SG 1.024 Chevron tang, Yellow tang, 5 blue-green Chromis, spotted Hawkfish, lawnmower blenny, Soft and Hard corals (need a list?) :) <No. Good luck my friend. Kia orana. Bob Fenner>
Re: Eye Abrasion
Mr. Fenner, It is so kind of you to write back so soon. It puts my worried mind at ease. :) <Ah, am glad for this> I will do as you suggested concerning my injured Chevy. Tang. I have readied my QT, and my good friend is coming over tomorrow to help me move him from my main system and give her first treatment (I hope my LFS has the disinfectant). <Or any good sized regular market... The suggested disinfectants are very commonly available for children's scrapes and cuts... Non prescription, but a pharmacist's is sure to carry these> I will write again soon and update you if you don't mind. Probably ask for some more advice too. :) Mahalo nui hoaloha! Carl <You're welcome my friend. Aloha, Bob Fenner>

Yellow eyed tang I have a yellow eye tang been in the tank for a few months. recently it has gotten to look like it can't shut its mouth.  <A very bad sign, development... Often, a "bump" or rubbing on a bag in transit will result in microbial infection, loss of feeding, vigor... death. Best to react ASAP> It looks like his mouth is peeling, any ideas? It may also help to know that it wasn't until recently that I found out you are supposed to feed them seaweed. Could these two things be linked?  <Yes, likely> In the tank are 5 damsels a wassy or rassy however you want to pronounce it, a clown (orange and white) 6 black and white fish.  My wife picked up 3 hermit crabs 3 anemone 4 Featherdusters about 20 lbs of rock and a walking pin cushion. Okay laugh I don't know the names of all these fish. Its a 30 gal tank with proper filtration unit (recommended by the fish shop) and a 50/50 bulb. please help. Mike <Yikes... this is a lot of fish in such a small tank... the Damsels in particular are often quite territorial (depending to a large degree on species). Please use the Google search tool at the bottom of our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ with the names of your fishes, "tang health"... to learn what you should know as a keeper of this life. Bob Fenner>

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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