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FAQs on HLLE, Head and Lateral Line Disease 4

Related Articles: Head and Lateral Line Disease, Algae Filters Articles, Caulerpa Algae

Related FAQs: HLLE 1HLLE 2 HLLE 3, & FAQs on HLLE: Causes/Etiology, Cures, Non-Cures, SW Case Histories, FW Case Histories, Vitamins in Marine Systems,

Long nose Butterfly with exploding head... yeah who wants this one? Lol... More bio.         9/6/15
Dear WWM,
So I have a long nose butterfly fish I've had for several weeks from a reputable LFS that had quarantined him themselves for a week. Up until now he has always been his normal chipper self, poking around and eating quite voraciously. Parameters on my 150 gallon reef are quite stable, although I recently started carbon dosing (about 3 weeks ago) after my nitrates got to 5ppm. I dose with vinegar, about 96 mL per day by doser at 4mL an hour.
Nitrates are .2ppm with salifert, now seemingly stable. Phosphate being dealt with by GFO and Phosguard.
Anyway back to the fish. Woke up and the fish is swimming near bottom, seemingly just trying to maintain balance. On the side of his head he has a bump, which seems to have split his scales so that it is noticeable. One of the cracks originating from the bump appears to go down the side of his body (not following the lateral line). Unfortunately the picture I took
from my iPhone doesn't really do it justice.
First, this would appear to me to be parasitic in nature.

If so, is it unique to butterflies or must I now worry about other livestock?
<Possibly; this is HLLE; possibly with Octomita involvement (chicken: egg analogy); of... a few possible influences.... nutritional, water quality mostly.... corrected, correct-able by the same>

Is there anything I should/can dose with to eliminate said parasite? This fish is obviously on deaths door, but should I euthanize, or QT and wait and see?
<Just read here for now: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for the help,



Angelfish Disease.... more HLLE        9/6/15
We have some sick angelfish and would like your advise on what you think it could be.
I have attached a picture of another angelfish that shows the disease.
<Mmm; looks to be "classic" HLLE.... due to? Most likely nutritional and water quality issues, and able to be corrected to degrees by improving same... via water... as marine fishes drink their environment. A few folks speculate that carbon (filtration) is a contributor, still others, stray electrical current. All this is gone over on WWW. Start reading here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>


Angel; French Angel, HLLE      8/28/14
I have a 220 sw tank. Mag 12 and another pump rated at 1000gph. Bi weekly 30 percent water changes. 12 yellowtail damsels. Emperor angel.
<... this isn't an Emperor Angel, but a Pomacanthus paru; a French>
Lunar wrasse. Couple pajama cardinals. Salt is at 17 or .012.
<Missing a 1. here>
Tested water shows 20 ppm nitrate, 0 nitrite, 8.0 ph, no signs of ammonia.
Here are to videos <LINK> of a French angel about 3 months ago it "looked" perfect. Here are two videos. The emperor angel has lateral line and the powder blue which is kinda new is showing signs of what the French has.
<Oh! Okay; you also have an Emperor I take it>
I do use tap water. Is the tank over crowded? Do I need to use rodi?
<... can't say w/ the data provided. HLLE IS a condition influenced/brought on by environmental and nutritional circumstances>
I feel spectrum pellets and formula 2 pellets. Sf brand frozen variety pack frozen food.
<Mmm; I'd soak these foods in a vitamin, HUFA supplement... And have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked (related) files above>
Thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

MHLLE question   2/27/13
Hey everybody,
I am so glad I found WWM.  What an invaluable resource!  You are now the only place I go for anything saltwater related.  There is so much misinformation on the web, its mind boggling.  Now to my question.  After searching your forums, it seems that my large Naso may be suffering from MHLLE.  I have read every thread you have on this and have followed all recommendations, but I feel like it might be progressing, thereby making me wonder if I have it identified correctly. 
<This looks more like something viral... growing out of neuromasts about the head>
Attached is a picture of his head.  It started out as a couple small “pimples,” but progressed rather rapidly.  It seems like within a matter of a few days, it went from a few pimples to warts.  Now it looks like masses and getting some holes.  I am concerned that it seems to be progressing on one side and not the other.  I have read that MHLLE is bilateral.  This started out as bilateral (with a preference for one side), but one side seems to have cleared up while the other is getting worse. 
When I initially noticed the bumps (within a day or two of them appearing), I inquired at the LFS and was told that it was probably MHLLE and was instructed to treat with Metro in his food. 
<Mmm, won't help here>
I did this for a few days in his pellets until he quit eating pellets, I assume because of the taste. 
After I found someone who knew what they were talking about and they identified it as a nutritional deficiency and not a parasite or protozoa, I changed his diet and quit the Metro (he had been on Metro for 5 days).  I got some NLS pellets and Ocean Nutrition seaweed with garlic.  He wasn’t interested in the pellets, but would devour the seaweed and come back for more. 
Then I found your site and read every thread you have on MHLLE.  I felt good that I had obtained the NLS pellets, and also went and got some Nori and Selcon.  He still wouldn’t eat the NLS but loved the Nori and Selcon. 
A little history: I ordered this tang sight unseen about 3 months ago from the LFS.  I had a 10g QT set up and ready to go and when he came in.  He was supposed to be about 3”, but he was almost 7” long.  Much too large for my QT system so I had to make the call to acclimate and add to the display since it was late and there wasn’t a local store open to get a bigger QT.  I wasn’t too worried as the tank was new (2 months without any fish) and he was the only fish in there.  My new system is 400g and will ultimately be a reef setup, although it is now mostly LR (500lbs) and a few mushrooms.  The tank had been running fishless for 2 months prior to adding the Naso.  It had already cycled.  The ammonia was 0, the nitrites 0, nitrates 5-10 using API test kit (the colors look the same to me on the 5 and 10), phosphates about .05 using Elos test kit.  Ph 8.0-8.1, water temp 77F, salt mix Red Sea Coral Pro (1.025), RO/DI water testing zero TDS,
Marineland Black Diamond carbon, Super Reef Octopus 5000 skimmer, 800 micron filter socks, and LED lighting.
The fish was fine for the first 2 months.  When I saw no signs of disease, I started to add new fish that I had acquired and had waiting in QT.  They were all added over several weeks to give the system a chance to catch up.  New additions were: a yellow tang and a purple tang (3”), a Hippo tang (5”), a school of Banggai Cardinals (8), a school of Lyretail Anthias (8).  The whole tank was very harmonious. 
For the first couple of months, the Naso only really showed an interest in PE Mysis shrimp.  After finding out that it might be a nutritional deficiency, I cut out the PE and tried to get him onto pellets and seaweed.  About that time, I also acquired a Blue Jaw Trigger from a friend (6”).  This fish was very high energy.  He was never aggressive towards other fish, but at feeding time, he would charge right through the crowd to get his portion and everybody else’s.  This would sometimes make the Naso shy away.  I don’t know if this could be causing stress to the Naso and be a contributing factor. 
<Not likely much>
The Naso has not had any PE Mysis shrimp in 2 weeks and has been eating Selcon soaked Nori every day for the last 3 days.  He is starting to warm up to the NLS pellets and eats 4-5 1mm pellets at feeding time (2-3 times a day).  He spits out the 2mm pellets.  He has been eating the pellets for 3 days.  I think he would eat the Nori continuously if I gave it to him.  That is all he begs for.  My question is: does this look like MHLLE, even though it isn’t bilateral?
<It does not>
  Is it common for it to progress for a bit once nutrition is corrected, before it starts to reverse? I feel like my water quality is good.  My RedOx is consistently between 350-400.  I do 10% water changes every other week.  I had been running carbon but just removed it today after I felt sure any Metro that was in the water was gone.  I have read on your site that carbon could contribute.  I will now run without carbon for a bit.  I also added Phoslock to remove any remaining phosphates. 
<Mmm, I'd allow some HPO4 here; not use chemical filtrant/s>
I just want to feel confident that I have identified the problem correctly and that I am treating appropriately to give him the best chance.  Thanks for all that you do.  James
<T'were it me/mine, I'd continue as you have, and add some purposeful cleaners here. Likely Lysmata species. Hopefully their presence will tip the balance and stir your Naso to self-improvement. Bob Fenner>

White spots   6/12/12
Hello crew!
I have a Unicorn Tang  that has these white spots on and around it head.
They all most like boney or calcium like protrusions.
I'll included two pictures of it. I've had this fish for about 4-5  years now.
<I see the one pic attached to your next email... these whitish blobs are almost certainly "neuromast destruction"... the mucus filled pit organs of the principal lateralis line of the head... note how they're bilaterally symmetrical... the cause? Appears to be a good bit of blue green algae present (the red and likely the brown clumpy stuff about)
Could you try and give me opinion?  Thanks Jim
<... Search WWM w/ the string "Blue Green Algae Toxicity". You need to improve your overall system and water quality...  Bob Fenner> 

Re: White spots; Naso, HLLE likely     6/12/12
Thanks Bob, I should have mentioned that the tank you see the unicorn in is just one of my quarantine tanks.
<I see... well "something" is irritating the neuromasts of this animal...
The possible list is quite long>
The fish lives in a 150 gallon tank with no algae growing in it.
The tank received a 30 gallon water change every two weeks.
It lives on Ocean Nutrition  mixes flakes along with Nori pieces that I've cut up and mixed in with the flake food.
<I encourage you to change to Spectrum pelleted food... much more nutritious and discrete (easier to get the food into your fishes and not have it spread, dissolve in the water)>
Ocean Nutrition mixed frozen cubes and a piece of broccoli once every two weeks when I service which has been soaked rinsed and kept frozen until installed in the tank when I service that tank.
<I'd skip the broccoli... make a visit to the oriental food store (or eq. part of your food market shelves) and shop for marine algae>
I've thought of what pesticides could be on the broccoli but the fish just love it and that's all we hear is the vitamins that is in broccoli.
Do you think there is any possible cure for the protrusions or will this just stay with him into old age.
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above... again, this "condition/syndrome" is known to be caused by a handful of influences... and cured similarly by fixing them>
I track all my livestock in that tanks I service but of course for this fish I missed putting down the date I installed him into this customers tank.
My guess is somewhere between Jan 2008  and March 2010..So it could be in the tank for about four years. Any idea of the life span of a Unicorn Tang.
<At least ten years>
As always thanks for writing and thanks for running such a great site!
Jim Jesko
<Ah welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blueface angel    12/25/11
Mr. Fenner, I think my Angel does have Hlle. I noticed his wounds were getting smaller, and then a couple of days ago they got bigger. I put some fresh charcoal in,
<Mmmm, I'd not use this at this time... linked as a cause and will remove some of the molecules of use, as cure here>
and I am now giving him angel formula on top of everything else I am feeding him every other day. Any suggestions?
<Oh yes. Posted... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCure.htm
and the linked files above>
Have Merry Christmas, Jim
<And you, BobF>
Re: Blueface angel, dis. f', HLLE  12/26/11

Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the quick reply on Christmas. You work to hard. So I pulled out the charcoal today. I have been checking my Nitrate, Nitrite, and Ammonia. One thing I have not been checking is my ph since I converted it from a reef to a fowlr tank. It was at 7.2, now it is at 8.3.
<?! I would NOT change pH this fast... are you familiar w/ our/WWM's search tool?>
Do you think that had something to do with it?
<Of a certainty, yes>

 So here's my plan. I feed new life spectrum pellets once a day, every day.
Every other day I feed Angel formula, and every other day I feed Mysis. I always soak them in Selcon and garlic Do you think that will do the trick, Plus keeping superior water quality?
<Only time can/will tell>
 How long should I remove the charcoal for?
<... see WWM re carbon use>
  Anybody reading this and thinking of putting a Blue Face Angel in a reef DONT DO IT! My angel nipped at lps, soft, sps and mushrooms corals.
<Thank you for this... also posted on WWM>

The only one thing he never ate is Lavender Mushrooms, and that is because my two clown fish live in it like a anemone and protect it from the Angel, Me and anything else that gets near it. lol I know a guy that has a 600 gallon reef and had Blue face Angel in there for a couple of years and he had to be pulled out because he started eating everything. Live Aquaria says, they are reef safe with caution. There <they're> full of it! I wanted to give you a update on the Cowfish, Emperor, and the 265 tank. I took the cowfish back to my lfs store. The cowfish was to <too> slow of <an> eater to make it in my tank. I was hand feeding him, but it just seemed like he never was getting enough food, and I think he would of starved to death. I went and looked at 265 tank for $4500. It was a mess. Lots of plywood, spray paint, homemade horrible stand, pvc pipe scattered in three different rooms coming off of it. My wife was with me when I looked at it. She said, there's no way we are putting this in our house!
<Heeee! Great that she went along>
 Of course she said it right in front of the guy selling it. She lets me do pretty much what I want when it comes to my aquarium, but that tells you what a mess it was. lol So I took the Emperor to my lfs too. I don't know now when I am going to get a bigger tank since they are in between. and cant afford $10000 to set one up brand new.  I know The Emperor would of rather lived in my 55, then in my 180 getting bullied by Blue Face. So I think It made a good choice. I just hope that the lfs does sell him to somebody and they put him in 20 gallon tank. I seen that crap on you tube very sad! Thanks, Jim
<And you, B>
Re: Blueface angel 12/27/11

Thanks for the quick response Mr. Fenner!
<Welcome Mr. Ivy!>
 I am sorry to share my drama about Murphy, (blue face angel) but I thought maybe I might be able to save at least one reef tank from disaster. It was great that my Wife went, but she could care less about my tank.
<... perhaps in time>
 Its my hobby and She knows how expensive it is because we share a Banking account. BOO! I will look the ph and charcoal up on WWM. I will keep you updated. If you here of any tanks for sale up in the North West send me there number. ; ) Have a great New Year, Jim
<Thank you Jim. B>

fin and head erosion on regal tangs   9/7/11
<Hi Judith>
I appreciate your taking my question.
<No worries>
One of the staff members at the marine shop where I trade came over to look at my aquarium. My two Regal Tangs have had erosion on their faces for over a year and their tails were torn. I had thought this was because they were scratching their faces on the rocks and perhaps biting each other's tails.
The staff member said he thought is was nutritional <and/ or psychological/ environmental> and said he thought they had head and lateral line disease.
I thought about how I had previously taken care of Tangs before and remembered I used to put Boyd Vita Chem on the food before feeding. I started doing this in March. It is now September. I have seen a very little improvement.
<This needs to caught early, while the erosion is white in colour. If the erosion colours to the skin colour of the fish then it is rarely healed up>
In early August, the shop suggested Selcon drops that I am now using.
Still not much improvement. I have a copy of your book the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. The book says the vitamin supplement needs to have vitamin D in it.
<And C. You can add your own to the vitamin mixture. Also look for Beta Glucan at the health food shop>
I could not find the content on the bottle of Selcon drops. The Vita Chem says is has D-L Phenylalanine 3.0MG, D-L Isoleuline 2.0MG Crude Fiber 2 per cent and D-L Tryptophan 1.0MG min crude fat .09 per cent. Is this what you mean by vitamin D?
<Mmm, not sure, have you Googled this? Baby vitamins (the drops) should have this vitamin>
If it isn't, could you please recommend a specific vitamin supplement I can buy to help my fish?
<Feed them New Life Spectrum Pellets. The single best HLLE 'healer food' I have used.>
I have been feeding them live algae from the shop and frozen brine shrimp.
<This needs to be soaked in the vitamin mixtures & fed alongside the NLS pellets>
Along with Cyclop-eeze once a week, and Thera +A, and Ocean Nutrition Formula Two Flakes with Garlic daily. The chemistry of my tank is usually ph 8.1, kh-13, cal 380-400, phosphates-0, nitrates-10. spg-23, temp 76.0.
Any help you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.
<I do think Judy that a fish that has had the condition for this length of time might well be permanently scarred unfortunately>
Thank you,
<No problem>
Judy Jenkins
re: fin and head erosion on regal tangs   9/10/11

Hi Simon,
<Hi Judy>
Thank you so much for your help and for answering so quickly! I appreciate it very much!
<It's a pleasure to help>
Judy Jenkins
<Thank you, Simon>

Need Some Help Please, HLLE... poss. cure/causes   11/28/10
Dear WWM,
Thanks again for being a great resource. I try hard to research and attempt to fix problems myself before turning to you. Unfortunately, I'm about out of ideas at this point. My multicolor dwarf angel has got HLLE. I spotted very small holes or "pits" around its eyes around August of this year. I quickly learned that this was an early sign of HLLE. Here is a summary of what I've done to combat the problem up to this point:
1. Activated Carbon: Around the time I noticed the HLLE, I had recently switched activated carbon brands, so I switched back to the brand I had originally used in my tank. There's been no improvement.
<Likely nutritional...>
2. Nutrition: Around the time I noticed the HLLE, I had stopped feeding Formula Two pellets because I noticed they had passed their "fresh date." I had been just feeding flake foods since then. So I got some frozen formula two food. I used it along with VitaChem to combat the HLLE. My nitrates started going up using the frozen food, so I went back to Formula Two pellets. Again, no improvement.
<I'd switch to a small size of Spectrum (pelleted food), and apply a Vitamin and HUFA supplement directly to the water>
3. Water Quality: I've been doing water changes more frequently and I'm trying to keep up with a 10% change every week. My nitrates are at around 20ppm. Not ideal, but not particularly detrimental to the health of the fish from what I've read.
<Still... a concern re what is allowing, generating such>
I've tried changing out carbon more frequently, but that doesn't seem to help. I'm considering "seeding" my tank with more bacteria via Seachem Stability, but again I'm wondering if my water quality could be behind the HLLE.
<Is at least a large/r factor>
Also, my PH is usually around 7.9 or so because it's a tall column tank; I don't think it's the problem, but I want to mention that as well.
<But again, is indicative of a less than ideal water quality situation>
4. Stray Voltage: I've checked for stray voltage and I get a 0.7 V reading in my tank. I can't find any materials that definitively state how much voltage is too much in a tank. From what I've read, there will always be some voltage in the tank as long as we are using equipment. I have two Koralia powerheads; each one contributes about 0.1-0.2 V. I have a heater that contributes about 0.3 V. My LFS suggested I use a grounding probe.
<Am not a fan in general... if your GFI isn't tripping you should be fine>
I have not used it yet. I do have everything plugged into a GFI, but I'm concerned that if I put in the probe, I won't be getting rid of the voltage, I'll just be creating a direct path for it to the probe itself -- a path that leads through the water and to my fish. I really don't know if I should add the probe or try to get a new heater. At the same time, if I get a new heater I think it will contribute at least 0.1 of voltage to the tank so wouldn't getting new equipment be negligible in terms of decreasing stray voltage in the tank?
<Not to worry>
I'm really at a loss of what to do at this point. The HLLE is progressing and I'm worried the scarring will be irreversible if I can't get it to reverse soon. I guess my options now are to try the probe, get a new
heater, or try frozen Formula Two food again and deal with the higher nitrates. Please tell me your thoughts on what I've said and any suggestions you have. I really would love to save this beautiful fish.
Thank you very much.
<Please (re)read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above. I would address the water quality (improvement) and the nutritional aspects here. Bob Fenner>

Large fish relocation... Free-ish, large, HLLE-scarred fishes in Vegas   6/22/10
Hey gang, Kinda of an off the wall question for you, I own a local aquarium maintenance business, I do roughly 4000 gallons a month. One of my tanks is a 2200 gallon FO tank, the people who set it up (ATM las Vegas) included a very large canister (think swimming pool) that they used to run carbon, I think carbon isn't very good so I got rid of it and changed to uv/ozone in the proper dosages. Many (most) of the fish have/had HLLE very bad,
including several 6 ish inch blue tangs some lion fish (over 12 inches) several large (18 inch) grouper, tangs etc. I have in the past year reduced the HLLE by at least half, and many of the fish are completely healed (except the scaring that is permanent) problem is that some of the fish are scared severely from the HLLE and will never recover. The owners of the aquarium want to make some changes, they want to do more small fish (schools
of Chromis and Anthias) as well as many tangs etc. So here is my question, what do I do with these larger fish,
<Mmm, hopefully sell them to folks who will continue to care for them>
We live in las Vegas and there are plenty of casino's that "might" take them but we have not got any solid answers from them. So do any of you guys know of anyone who might want some large fish for free?
<I would contact other service companies, the retailers in town who do service work... and offer these organisms... cheap>
I cannot make the changes to the aquarium until these fish are moved, and ill be damned if I will just "toss" them. any suggestions or ideas? Thanks as always..
<And also place ads on Craig's List... detailing what you have, when it will be available... and on your co. website if you have one. Bob Fenner>

Emperor Angel and HLLE 6/15/10
Hey Guys,
<Hello Jimmy>
Been a long time since I asked a question. I have had a 180 Gallon FOWLER for 12 years. (Inhabitants 10" Emperor Angel ( 6 yrs old , 7 " Blue Girdle Angel 6 years old , 10" Naso Tang 11 years old, 4" Heniochus Butterfly 11 years old, Fox Face, 12 years old, 2 brittle stars )
<Wow, really good ages some of these, well done!>
All going well until approx 3 days ago. Emp. Angel has quit eating, but still behaving normally.
<Mmm, Pomacanthus not eating is not behaving normally>
Maybe hiding a bit more, but hard to say. (Comes to top of tank during feeds, approaches food with interest, pecks at it and then backs away)
<This does not seem good to me>
When I approach tank it swims to the feeding corner, but does not assume the position of dominance like it did in the past to get first crack at the food. All other inhabitants doing well.
Emperor Angel has had HLLE but not that badly (some cratering around nostrils, mild loss of coloration around face but no visible lateral line disease. Only other thing that I have noted is that the mouth/ lips is just a bit swollen but not reddened or obviously traumatized.
<May have been in a tussle with one of the others. Can you provide a picture of this?>
It almost seems as if "it hurts" for the fish to open its mouth. I have used multiple food sources to no avail.
I have had a busy work schedule recently, but have changed water once every 4-6 weeks, on a couple of times went 8-10 weeks.
<With these fish in this volume, this is far too little. I would be stepping these up to weekly>
Recently I have made a major water change (80 gallons ) with aged mixed R/O salt. And from there have been doing small partial water changes daily ( 20 Gallons )
System has been closed to new inhabitants for over 5 years. Emperor Angel has no other signs of disease...to look at it, other than the mild protuberance of the mouth, no signs of disease. I am almost thinking that the mouth has suffered trauma, but I see no evidence of any abrasions, or redness, just the mild swelling of the lips.
I will continue doing partial water changes daily, until it hopefully starts to feed. Try vitamins, iodine supplements, Selcon.. but food supplements don't do much good if not eating.
Any other suggestions
<Yes, moving this fish to another system, a larger and less crowded one. I suspect a tank-mate as the culprit here.. perhaps the Naso, although it could be that this fish psychologically just needs more room now and it is telling you this with it's change of behaviour. I do think that 180 gallons, even un-crowded, is too small for P. Imperator. Another possibility is that this is just an injury of some kind and will heal on it's own in time>
<No worries>

Re: Emperor Angel and HLLE   6/16/10
Thanks Simon,
<No problem Jimmy>
I completely agree on the water changes. The Emperor has been such a gladiator of a fish
<Indeed so>
and the king ( or queen ) of the tank for years. I have been reefkeeping for 25 years and it is my impression that this fish is either traumatized, <Probably> getting old <No. These can live 30 years>, or outgrown the house (or a combination).
<Likely the first and last here>
It gives me the impression that it is really hungry but cannot bring itself to eat!
<The mouth looks swollen to me, but with no sign of an injury. I wonder if Bob might have some input here.. will post to his box for his comments if he has any>
If water conditions or trauma are the culprit, it should be able to recover nicely.
<Yes, it should>
I will send a picture.
<I see these, and apart from the swollen mouth and Neuromast destruction the fish looks otherwise healthy. I think time is on your side here, but ultimately this fish needs more room than is being provided. The HLLE is a clue to the unsuitability of the environment http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/sp/index.php http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm?h=>
<No prob.s>
Re: Emperor Angel and HLLE   6/16/10

Here are some pictures
What do you think
<Is HLLE in one of its guises... "cures" as Simon states can be found in the linked pages. BobF>

See: SW Case Histories, for continuation

Strange white faced groupers   6/13/10
Good day crew!
<Sorry for the delay in responding>
I own a small aquarium shop, and have recently noticed something a little alarming with a couple of my black spotted groupers. 2 of them have developed what appears to be "white faces". See the attached
photo for a reference.
<I see this in your excellent pix>
Any idea what could be causing the problem?
<Yes... "Neuromast destruction"... aka Head and Lateral Line "Disease"... HLLE...>
At first I thought it may be battle scars, but the uniform shape seems to match their skulls... They've been housed in a sale tank. We keep our S.G. between 1.017 and 1.020,
<Too low...>
and generally use no remedies or medications. Furan II is on hand, as well as Melafix
<Don't use this...>
and the other usual remedies, but none have been applied to the patients in question.
<Neither will help you here>
They are housed in a 70 gallon sale tank within a partition of about 20 gallons. To this point, they have shared a compartment with a Clown Trigger,
<Very stressful>
and a Stars & Stripes Puffer - but no others. They have normal ABS/PVC pipes to hide in, but they rarely use them.
We skim heavily, as well as use regularly replenished activated carbon for filtration. All in all - its a very clean tank with no nitrates or other contaminants (that we're aware of).
Thanks in advance for your help, time, and for providing such an amazingly helpful website.
<Please read here re this syndrome:
and the linked files above. There are a few inputs that can result in this erosive condition... Mostly water quality and nutritional issues... and the "cure" is the rectification of these issues. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tang Trouble -- 05/21/10
Hello all. I have been reading your site quite a bit and getting great information. Excellent site. My Yellow Tang is in trouble. I was treating him for lateral line with Fish Zole,
<Metronidazole... Flagyl generically>
recommended by LFS.
<Mmm... only if the root cause of this erosive condition is Parasitic... rare... will such a treatment avail... OTOH, this compound is very toxic... one dose is all fishes should ever be exposed to... Damages nephric/kidney
components... mortuus est. Instead, water quality, nutritional aspects are almost always the basal cause of HLLE... Read here:
and the linked files above...
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm
and the linked...>
After day 5 he started to turn red so I stopped. No one seemed to know what it was
<What? Nonsense!>
and said it was most likely from treatment.
<Oh, yes... tis so>
So I find a picture similar on your site. Should have come here first.
The Tang is in a QT tank right now.
<Won't be fixed here>
I have been using vitamins in his water/food.
<Good... return this fish to the main system>
Water tests are 0. PH is 8.2 and doing water change daily. Yesterday he did not eat his Nori soaked in vitamins nor the frozen herbivore food and the same for this morning. Not a good sign I'm sure. Is there anything else I can do? Should I start antibiotics again?
Would putting him back in the main tank be a bad idea?
<No; a good one>
He's been in the 10 gallon QT for 3 weeks which may be too small for a long period. Also It seems there is no set answer on how this happens.
<Double nonsense... the etiology of this condition, and its arrest, reversal is well-worked out...>
Water quality, which seems to be great and no problems with hippo tang or bicolor angel. Stress...he was boss of the tank....although I never seen much picking. Voltage....I have heard this one is a myth. Any ideas here?
<... see WWM re>
Thanks for any ideas and have a great weekend.
<Read where you've been referred and write back if you still have questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>

Sick Hippo Tang question 1/27/10
<Hello Adam>
I have a Hippo Tang that seems to be suffering from HLLE. His symptoms are holes above and below his eyes and along his lateral line (they are getting bigger). <Ok>
He still has an absolutely wild appetite and only hides when spooked by out of tank sources, he spends most of the time "schooling" with the two clowns he shares the tank with.
<Nice behaviour to watch!>
I have taken some steps to cure him, but nothing seems to be helping.
The Nitrate levels are higher than desirable <a factor>, so I have started doing smaller and more frequent water changes, I also purchased a protein skimmer.
<Mmmm, you should have had one of these from the start>
I got him to finally eat seaweed by tearing it up and soaking it in Mysis shrimp before feeding (he doesn't take seaweed from a clip). His diet consists of Mysis shrimp, seaweed, and flake food.
<Ok. There is no proof as to what actually causes this condition, but improving the diet and environment can bring about a halting and/ or a reversal. I would start with the diet here: Cut out the flake and replace with a decent pellet food such as New Life Spectrum. Feed this as the staple with a little Mysis every few days. I would soak the seaweed (Nori?) in a vitamin supplement (something like Selcon) before feeding daily as well. Don't overfeed so that it affects your water quality though>.
It has been several months with what I believe is HLLE and I don't know what else to do. I heard that activated carbon can be a problem (which is what I use), what can I use instead if it actually is the cause?
<Mmmm, I am not convinced by this 'carbon as the cause' argument. I use carbon continuously and my fish have never suffered from this condition. I have also bought 'second hand' fishes with this condition and halted/ reversed it. The only way I see carbon as being a cause would be if it 'removed' some 'mysterious but necessary' element. If you do your water changes regularly then you should be replenishing anything lost. As stated, there is no proof for any cause, but IMO a clue is that a) Wild fish don't get this at all, and b) Improving the environment & diet works. Fishes like Tangs & Angels need space, give them this and a decent diet and you should see things right>.
My Hippo Tang shares his tank with two clowns, two Firefish, and a coral banded shrimp, all of which are healthy.
<In what size tank?>
The water parameters are (non reef):
<Non-reef systems commonly show this problem on fishes (environment). Do you have live rock w/ algae growth? If not, I would suggest adding some>
Nitrate - 40 ppm
<Too high and probably a contributing factor>
Nitrite - 0
pH - 8.0 to 8.5
Specific Gravity - 1.021
<Too low -- I would gradually raise this to 1.025 -- 1.026>
Temperature - 76 degrees F
Thank you
<No problem, I think there are a few things you can do. Try reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm>

Holes in head on Yellow Long Nosed Butterflyfish  7/28/09
<Good AM, good gosh!>
I have been treating a Yellow Long Nose Butterflyfish from Whitespot with copper treatment, which I have found very effective although in the first week it is essential to test the copper level at least three times a day in the first 7 days as it drops very quickly and overdosing is very easy to do and will kill fish in hours.
<Thank you for (re) stating these facts>
Anyway, after two weeks the Whitespot seems to have gone but the Yellow Longnose Butterfly now has small holes in his head.
<Resultant from the copper exposure>
Any ideas of what they are would be helpful and hopefully a cure.
<Just good water quality and nutrition as detailed here:
There is also a small about 2inch Copperband in with him which is a new fish I cannot get to eat anything including, brine/mysis shrimp or fresh tuna meat.
PS The salinity is also low 1.010 which by itself did not kill the Whitespot.
<The SpG needs to be returned to near seawater strength... as in "good water quality"... Bob Fenner>

FYI/Powder Blue Tang 3/26/09
I don't have a question just an interesting (yet sad) observation. In my city there is a casino with a large 150000 litre walk through saltwater aquarium.
<Mmm, 40,000 gallons, that is large.>
It is stocked full of marine fish such as puffers, triggers and many, many tangs. It is sad in that though they call it a reef it is merely a few decorations and no liverock at all. I believe they used to keep shark but they kept dying so I guess they decided to add reef fish.  Anyway all the tangs are suffering from severe HLLE, many holes on their heads and barely any fins. Hardly a pretty sight! All except the Powder Blue Tangs. They were all the most healthy looking tangs in the tank. I found this interesting since these are the most difficult tangs to keep.  Maybe the were hogging all the food or are not as susceptible to HLLE?
<May have been new additions?>
Thanks for your time, I just wanted to let you know of my observation. I am disgusted at the fact that these fish are so far gone and that with some better nutrition they could be healthy.
<Very sad indeed, Kathy. Thank you for sharing with us. James (Salty Dog)>

Marine Head and Lateral Line Erosion and Activated Carbon  11/12/08 Hello staff, <<Hello>> After looking around on Google for some answers all I was able to find was some varying opinions at best. <<Mmm'¦ Much opinion here as well>> My tank is FOWLR. I have 3 medium sized fish and 4 small fish in a 75 gal tank. I turn over the water 10x an hour (360 canister, 350 BioWheel) and a hang-on skimmer. Water quality has never been an issue according to local marine stores in St. Paul, MN. <<Hmm'¦>> I will be upsizing to a tank around 200 gals in the next year or two to accommodate my Koran Angel, Yellow eyed tang, Niger Trigger, Maroon Clown, 6 line wrasse and two yellow tail damsels-so they'll have a larger home soon. <<And the sooner the better'¦ Even just growing up in too small a tank can have deleterious effect>> I feed them what I would say is the best food I can buy. Frozen mysis shrimp, Nori, frozen Spirulina cubes, prime reef from ocean nutrition flake food and other frozen food I can't remember. pH is usually above 8.0- I used to have problems keeping it above 8 but the past 9 months it's been 8 or better. Anyway on to the MHLLE the tang and angel have. The tang looks almost identical to the Atlantic tang seen in an article I read (http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/sp/index.php). <<Okay>> The angel has almost like a sunken area that is yellow-I know he is going through its color changes but it doesn't look natural. Both fish seem extremely healthy. <<Not unusual>> For a while I thought the angel's problem was from not eating enough angel formula-which he hates. I usually have to skip a tank feeding once a week then the Koran will eat the formula. Does he need to eat it more than once a week? <<Not if it means starving the tank to do so... A better solution in my opinion would be to fortify those foods the Angel will more readily consume with vitamin/HUFA supplement such as Selcon or Selco>> I can't think of anything else it would be although I've only been at this for two years now. <<HLLE is almost always a result of an environmental and/or nutritional issue. Your water quality may well not be as good as you have been led to believe (always best to buy/learn to use your own test kits for monitoring water quality). Another factor may be the size of the system the fish currently occupy>> Does the use of activated carbon have anything to do with this? <<I have heard excessive use might be a contributing factor>> I use it in all three of my cleaning devices-I'd say 4-6 oz of total product. <<This doesn't seem excessive'¦ But perhaps you could try limiting its use to a few days every couple weeks to see if it helps>> Lastly over the course of a month I change out 33% of the water. Thank you for any help or advice you guys can give; you really have an excellent website. <<Try the food supplement/fortifier suggested, as well as providing an iodine/iodate supplement to the system'¦ And get these fishes to a bigger home as soon as possible'¦ I also suggest you get some test kits and at least validate what the stores are telling you about your water chemistry. Regards, EricR>> http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/sp/images/MHLLEAtlanticBlueTang1sm.jpg http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/sp/images/MHLLEAtlanticBlueTang2sm.jpg

Marine Head and Lateral Line Erosion and Activated Carbon  11/13/08 Hello again staff, <<EricR here again>> I've forgotten how good your site really is. <<Oh?>> I was going through some of my books last night (Bob's book being one of them) and I'm still confused about if I'm running my tank in a good way. <<How so?>> It appears you guys don't put a lot of stock in activated carbon being bad for the tank so we'll let that one go. <<Usually have more benefits than drawbacks, yes>> I'm also confident that the HLLE going on with my tang and angel are most likely food related. <<Most always the case>> I'm probably a bad parent here not forcing them to eat enough greens and I'll start adding some vitamins and Iodine to their food <<Mmm, to be clear'¦ Vitamins/HUFAs added to the food are fine, but Iodine additions/supplementation should be made to the system water not the fish's food, per the manufacturer's instructions>> -I'm going to make a big push to make sure they're getting the right nutrition. <<Something I neglected to mention before'¦ Do get some Spectrum New Life pelleted food. This excellent fare is palatable and nutritious'¦ And could possibly turn this issue around on its own>> My follow up question is about filtration. I have a Marineland canister filter 360 and BioWheel 350 and also a hang-on Red Sea skimmer. Do you guys think this is good enough for the 3 medium and four small fish I have in a 75? <<Probably so'¦ But that doesn't mean you can't do better, especially concerning the skimmer. The addition of a sump, and a refugium if possible, could also make a big difference here along with providing a place to put that better skimmer>> My tank doesn't have overflows so I'd have to get one of those hang-ons going down to a sump-which I'm not crazy about. <<But maybe for the best. The tank might could be drilled through the back or end panel, but if not, utilizing a �pair� of siphon overflows can mitigate any overflow issues>> I ideally wanted to wait until I bought a new tank in a couple of years. <<Then perhaps you need to consider returning the Angel and Tang to your LFS in exchange for fishes more appropriate to the tank>> The book 'The Conscientious Marine Aquarist' do you consider this book still up to date when talking about sumps and mud? <<Much has changed since Bob originally penned this book, but he also has an updated edition available>> It is a wonderful book I'm just wondering if I need to supplement it with some new research. <<Even Bob will tell you'¦ Yes'¦ Always investigate/use several sources of reference>> I just got your response as I was writing this so I can respond to couple of comments. <<Great>> I have several test kits and everything tests well, I usually bring a sample to the store just to double check myself. <<Ah, okay'¦ Very good'¦>> I'll purchase the supplements you mentioned. <<Excellent'¦ The Selcon and/or Selco is great stuff>> I also read on your site about using a pellet food called 'New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula' one of your writers thought it was wonderful and helped with HILLE <<Ah yes!!! It truly is an amazing product>> -my fish have not taken pellets in the past though-thoughts on this? <<Most do though some won't'¦ Persistence is key'¦>> At least I can show your response to my wife and leverage getting a larger tank much sooner. <<Lol!>> Thank you so very much for your help-I really appreciate the help. <<It is my pleasure>> It's funny how overwhelming the marine fish hobby can be. <<Preparation/research (to include proper stocking)>> Thanks again and have a great day. <<And to you in kind. Eric Russell>>

Re: Marine Head and Lateral Line Erosion and Activated Carbon (and now 'feeding/foods') -- 10/13/09
Hello Crew,
<<Hiya Jeff'¦Eric here again (still!)>>
I have a follow up question about a year later.
I've made some adjustments to the way I do things with my tank and I have a lingering question in my head. I've had my tank now for 3 years and in that time I've only lost 1 fish 7/8 (a pretty good % I think)
<<Indeed it is>>
and I think the most difficult part of maintaining a salt environment is feeding.
<<Hmm, an interesting viewpoint>>
If you keep up on water changes and have good lighting and filtration (also a lot of live rock has been great for me) and additives it pretty much runs itself.
<<Is a bit more than that I think. A well maintained assemblage of quality gear is key for sure'¦but the best design in the world can't succeed without thought to the livestock going in to it (suitability to captive life, species compatibility, overall bioload, et al). Thus perhaps, making 'proper stocking of a system' the most difficult aspect of the hobby?>>
But food I still wonder if that's right.
<<A nutritious and plentiful diet certainly plays a large role in 'my' mind>>
I've been using 'New Life Spectrum' pellet food for the larger fish and flakes mainly for the really small guys (damsels and wrasse).
<<Mmm, do look in to the 1mm size pellets of this most excellent food. Both my large and small fishes readily eat (the bigger fishes even prefer) this smaller pellet over the 3mm size>>
They all really like the food but (here's the question) does my Koran angel and yellow eyed tang get the nutrition the manufacture brags about.
<<Based on my own experience with the Spectrum pellets, and observation of other's use of it'¦yes, it would seem so. And while this is a very good 'stand alone' food, I still like to expand the daily diet with frozen Mysis, Glass Worms, Reef Plankton, Cyclops-Eeze, shredded Macroalgae, etc. for the added nutrition and even just the difference in shape/size/composition>>
Specifically the angel they (New Life Spectrum) claim that I do not need sponge/angel formula or additives (Selcon, Zoe, etc) and it actually is counterproductive when using other foods.
<<I don't agree with the latter. I am a BIG fan of the Spectrum food'¦ I do think ANY hobbyist would benefit from providing it to their livestock'¦ And though I have known those who fed it exclusively, it is my belief that there is still benefit to adding variety re other 'quality' foodstuffs, as well as the periodic use of the Selcon food supplement. We can debate what's 'most difficult' about the hobby, but I am certainly in agreement with you on the problem of 'getting it right' when it comes to feeding our fishes to provide for their 'long term' health and vitality. Providing a 'bounty of nutritional foods' is certainly a 'requirement,' in my book>>
Do you think I can only use their food only or should I continue to force (angel has never liked its formula) angel formula and treat my pellets with Selcon, and use mysis shrimp (also with Selcon) 2, 3, 4 times a week?
<<I don't feed foodstuffs my fishes won't eat'¦why waste it/the money (along with the added organic load of the uneaten food). If the Angel Formula (Ocean Nutrition?) is not accepted then don't feed it. But I 'would' continue to use the Selcon product periodically'¦and I 'would' feed additional items like the Mysis Shrimp and others>>
Last thing, does the damage from HLLE ever grow back?
<<Yes'¦and as you likely already know, is largely environmental/nutritional>>
Or is the fish scarred permanently?
<<This is a possibility...and all depends on the extent of the damage. Fishes have astounding powers of recuperation and regeneration (when given the chance/a healthy environment). And I have seen some amazing recoveries from horrific wounds...but with many of the worst displaying the slightest bit of scarring/deformation. Time will tell'¦'¦'¦'¦>>
Thanks for any insight you can lend,
Jeff Fitzmorris
<<Is a pleasure to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

R2: Marine Head and Lateral Line Erosion and Activated Carbon (and now 'feeding/foods') -- 10/14/09
<<Hey Jeff>>
Thanks for responding and giving me some great insight.
<<My pleasure'¦hope it helped>>
This website and the people taking their free time to help people like myself is really truly wonderful, I appreciate it.
<<Thank you for the kind words>>
I agree that I over simplified having a good system- I guess maybe I might be at the point where I'm just dangerous at what I think I know so I feel pretty confident as to why things are the way they are in my tank.
<<I don't think you are dangerous at all'¦and I'm sure you are an accomplished aquarist to boot. But I do think if we hobbyists were, as a rule, smarter/more realistic when stocking our tanks that 'life' would be a lot easier for 'all' involved>>
But I suppose it's one of those things you realize the more you think you know you probably don't...so that's why I ask you guys.
<<It's always nice even to just have someone to 'bounce-off' ideas>>
Anyways I do have the 1mm sinking pellets for the small fish but it seems like they have a hard time tracking it when I put it in and most falls on the bottom-maybe they get it later, I don't know.
<<Hmm'¦ My fishes (of all size'¦excepting the Copperband Butterfly which only eats frozen fare) seem to find the slow-sinking pellets quite easily'¦and consume them readily>>
I could try breaking their feeding into a few more feedings and see if that helps.
<<Frequent small feedings are always best when possible/practical>>
I worry about my angel and feel responsible for what I did because I didn't act on the HLLE sooner because he/she never liked the first angel formula I gave it for the first 2 years (the brown cube the name escapes me now). Currently I am feeding a red cube now (there's not a name on the package) and I have to skip a day to get the angel along with the tang hungry enough so they will eat the angel formula.
<<Time to find another brand then, mate. Your fishes need regular daily feedings>>
Where as if I were to feed the NLS or mysis a few hours prior they wouldn't touch it.
<<If they are consuming the NLS then I wouldn't be overly concerned. This food does appear to be 'wholly' nutritious>>
Skipping I'm sure you'll say is not great but it gets them to eat their 'veggies'.
<<I would offer a sheet of Macroalgae on a clip, and just keep feeding the NLS and other frozen fare daily/a couple times a day>>>>
I just wanted to know if NLS I guess counts as angel formula and it sounds like you are saying it does.
<<I can only vouch for the robustness, exceptional color, and vitality of my and other's fishes fed re. But yes'¦everything I hear and have seen relating to the quality and dietary fulfillment of this food seems to be true>>
I will see if my store carries the foods you mentioned and I'll give them a try-I could never be accused of skimping on cost for my fish.
<<Hee-hee! My wife claims my tank eats better than we do!>>
Sounds like I'll try to increase some variety and more or less keep doing what I'm doing.
Thanks again for your help
<<Always a pleasure>>
....talk to you next year maybe.
<<I look forward to it! Eric Russell>>

hole in head, reading   10/25/08
This is my black and white sweetlips of three years. Just recently he began to show this crevice on his head. I'm just wondering it looks to be parasitic as I don't think it looks to be an HLLE type problem.
<Mmm, is symptomatic of HLLE (I take it this is bilateral, on the other side of the head as well), which almost always has a parasitic component... though not the direct cause IMO>
My water parameters are all perfect and the fish get an extremely varied meaty diet. This fish eats extremely well and is very active, showing no signs of an illness except for some agitation concerning this problem. As I hope the pictures show, there is a groove in his head with some brownish substance in the wound. Sorry for the large picture size as I had a real hard time getting a good shot of the problem and the large pictures show it best. Thanks in advance for
any advice.
Greg Fasano
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: hole in head -10/26/08 I don't know if it would change your opinion, but this is only on one side of the fish's head. <Mmm... such erosive conditions are rarely unilateral... As are my responding to emails with lower case "i"s> Should I just monitor and maintain good nutrition and water quality for now or is there another more proactive approach to take? <Yes... better, more complete filtration period... the use of DSBs, Mud, Macroalgae culture... above all as a measure, high, consistent RedOx potential. BobF>

Naso Tang 007, hlth.   10/14/08
Dear Crew,
First off, thank you for a wonderful web-site. I just happen upon it a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoying reading all the vast amount of information. It's very commendable of you to offer such a tremendous service. I do own a copy of CMA. Great book Dr. Fenner!
<Mmm, no doctorate, just Bob, please>
I'm somewhat of a newbie in that I left the hobby several years ago as time constraints (i.e. 3 children) along with moving to new residence kept me from re-establishing my tank. Anyhow, my reason for writing today is that I am starting up my 300 gal. FOWLR and have made my first fish purchase. One of the fish being a 6" Blonde Naso Tang. This fish was offered at discount through the retailer (F&S) you mention on your web-site frequently. (I wonder if it had been in their tank for long period of time, thus the reason for the discounted price?)
I received the fish on Weds. afternoon and by Sat. morning he developed what appears to me to be Lateral Line Disease. I am attaching a picture for your review.
<I see>
The Naso was placed in quarantine tank 30 gal.(4' x 1' x 1' ) upon receipt on Weds. 10/08. The water in the quarantine tank is being treated each day with Kordon's Prevent Ich per their instructions.
<Mmm, won't "treat" HLLE... in fact the ingredients here, the further stress... will drive all the other direction>
Water parameters are as follows: spg 1.023,
<Mmm, low, but likely better here for gas exchange purposes>
ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates <5, temp. 76, ph 8.2. He is currently not accepting food i.e. mysis shrimp, krill dip in vita-chem, red algae w/garlic sheets, flakes, etc.
<Stop! I would move this fish (back) into the 300 gallon setting... The etiology/causative mechanism of the syndrome shown won't "spread" as a consequence to other livestock... and otherwise the chance of this fish resolving is very small>
He is not actively swimming around tank, occasional stroll and then sits on bottom.
<More bad behavior>
Today, Monday, he has started gilling. I have been using a power head position right at the water-line to agitate the surface so that there's plenty of air mixing with the water.
<Mmm, not for this species... Move it>
Could you please confirm my diagnoses and provide any other information on treatment as well as suggestions on what else can be done to save him. I read all that I could find own your web-site with respect HIHLL and seems to me that the general consensus for its cause is related to nutrition and water quality.
<Yes, this is so>
With that being the case, what could have caused this condition in such a short period of time (3 1/2 days) given the water parameters?
<Stress period... as you speculate, just how long has this fish been kept, moved about in sub-par conditions?>
Your response most appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Angel infection... HLLE... and/or?  -- 10/10/08
<Hi there>
A friend of mine referred me to you to get help with my new angel. I have posted pics online and described the situation. Could you take a quick look at my thread and let me know what you think?
Here's my thread:
<Mmm, though other folks discount that there might be similar etiologies for both HLLE and this sort of more random "Hole in the Head"... in what little scope work I've done (most post-mortem), I have observed both Octomita/Hexamita and Spironucleus in and about the damaged areas. There is evidence (good) that the quinine compound Chloroquine (phosphate) is VERY effective re Protozoans... internal and external... through varying/different treatment methods (gel-foods), directly administered to water... Please see the Net, WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Scopas Tang HLLE  7/22/08 Hello, I have a question about possible hole in head disease in a scopas tang. I can not get a decent picture but I found one on the web that looks really close and have included the link below as well as my tank parameters and stocking list. My tang does not have as many markings around the eye but very similar line under the eye. There is not a hole but it looks as though the color has disappeared in these lines and dots. I have had my tang for about 3 months. I feed him mysis, blood worms, a slurry of: squid, scallops, mysis, pellets, krill, silversides, red and green sheet algae, Cyclop-Eeze. I also have red or green algae on a clip for him every day sometimes every other day. I also clip Chaeto from my fuge sometimes. I soak all food in Selcon and vita-chem and have been before I got the tang. If my fish is sick I do not think it is nutritional. He is in a 72 bow with 20 gal sump. There is a 3 stripe damsel that nipped him at first but now they seem ok, sometimes they shake tails at each other. The spots where the damsel nipped the tangs fins have been totally healed for a while now. Do you think the damsel is stressing the scopas and causing this issue? The damsel recently caused my long nose hawk fish to jump through the egg crate top and die on my carpet, the a hole. The tang is about 4 inches and the damsel is about 3 inches. The tang is active and eats like a pig. I can not find many picks of adult scopas so I do not know if he is changing color or if he is getting the hole in head lateral line disease. If he is getting the disease any suggestions as of what to do . I tried to catch the damsel with a crude trap but all I got was Nassarius snails and hermits. As always thanks for you thoughtful advice on this. http://www.marinecenter.com/media/photos/4B9298653B424687ADA59C64C63E37B5G.jpg thank parameters 72 gal bow front 20 gallon sump with 5 gallon chamber refugium with macroalgae live rock and sand bed ph- 8.3 ammonia- 0 nitrite - 0 nitrate - under 5 ppm calcium- around 500 dKH - 10 specific gravity- 1.024 temp - 79/80 live stock 3 stripe damsel scooter blenny pink spot goby scopas tank some snails and hermits coral harry mushrooms toadstool fox coral frog spawn yellow sea blade red lobo brain Favia brain small zoo polyps on shell xenia Kind regards, Jeff <Jeff, I would definitely remove the damsel, they can be very annoying to their tank mates and stress them as well. I have seen HLLE occur when everything has been perfect, it is a disease in which the direct cause is unknown. I would continue to feed the tang everything you have been doing (maybe add some vitamin a and c crystals from GNC). I had an Africanus Angelfish that had HLLE and with a couple months of vitamin A and C crystals it has reversed and you can no longer tell it even happened. Good luck with your tang, IanB>

HLLE disease in Hippo, more reading  10/6/08
I've just discovered your website tonight. I've been a member of another saltwater forum for a short time and have asked this question there but I've tried what I was recommended there and so far no results. I have a 75, and I know now that this is too small but for now there is nothing I can do. My home is for sale to get a larger house and until this one sells and we get in the other, I cannot get a bigger tank, but I will be getting a 150 whenever that does happen. I have an Emperor400 and a Marineland330, and two powerheads, and about 125lbs of liverock. I have 3 tangs(I know bad) but I've had them for 5 yrs, almost 4 years, and almost 2 years. My pride and joy, Audrey Hepburn has just shown the first minor sign of HLLE, after my hippo and yellow tang have had it for some time, in fact the hippo has had it for at least 2 years, recently progressing quickly. I love these fish like many people love their cats and dogs and will do the most I can to save them. I've been reading some of the threads about HLLE and saw that you mentioned a bacterial or protozoan "strain".
<Mmmm, Octomita and Spironucleus are/have been "implicated"... but methinks that generally they are "chickens that come after the egg"... Poor water quality, lacking nutrition are the primary drivers of this neuromast destruction syndrome>
I'm wondering if this is likely since all three have it. So far I have changed the diet to Mysis, emerald entree, very little brine, and flakes, with occasional algae sheets. I've been soaking about 2 times a week overnight in garlic, Kent Zoecon, and Zoë« Marine. This is not working, in fact I believe the disease has progressed since I've been doing this for the last month and a half. I don't have any LFS in my area or near, just small chains with very little product. I order from Fosters and smith occasionally. I don't know where I can get Sushi Nori, unless the local Japanese steakhouses would sell it to me. If I need a liquid vitamin, which one do I need. I'll try whatever I can, can you please give me some tips, in the order of how I should try them. Thanks so much!
Amanda Jones
<Keep reading on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/HLLESWCauseF.htm
and the linked files above... The use of Chloroquine may be of use here... Bob Fenner>

Re: HLLE disease in Hippo  10/6/08
I've read almost all of the info you have posted, q and a. If it was mentioned where Nori could be purchased I must have missed it, and the Chloroquine you mentioned Im not sure what it is. My access to anything that cant be ordered is very limited to non-existent. Thanks again, this situation, although silly, has affected my mood keeping me chronically down and depressed watching something I love die.
<Amanda... please use the search tool on WWM re this quinine cpd... and do order the Chloroquine... online... Do what you can to improve water quality... look into adding a DSB, refugium, macroalgal culture... Try to be content that you're doing what you can to remedy the situation. Cheers, BobF>

Lateral Line Erosion   6/7/08 Hello Crew, <Howdy> First of all, thank you in advance. You've been so very helpful to me in the past. <Welcome> I have recently received a beautiful Koran Angel, given to me because the owner had tried reselling it and was unable to do so, because of the skin missing from its face. It seems very healthy, and was alongside many other fish, and none of them have ever become infected. She bought him several years ago, when he was just a nickel-sized fish, she says, and he's had the erosion since he was a baby. She says lately, it did not look as bad as before. <Can be progressive, slow... halted... even reversed> I have read up on LLE being common in other fish types, but not in angelfish. Is this LLE? <Appears to be, yes... aka neuromast destruction> I have included a photo. I've started feeding him a variety of foods, supplementing the water and I am looking for fish vitamins to add to his diet in hopes he begins to heal. His face looks pretty bad. It's missing. Thanks in advance. Here is a photo of my fish. PS- Please pardon the sick looking bubble anemone, as we had an overheating incident 3 weeks ago and the corals are all recovering. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm and through the other two FAQs files linked above in series. Bob Fenner>

Success in curing HLLE 05/30/2008 Hi WWM crew, <<Good afternoon, Andrew today>> I have always appreciated the fine work you do for the marine fish/reef keeping community, and keep up the excellent work! <<Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated>> This time I have something to offer. Not claiming to be an expert or anything, just one more success story and data point for the common HLLE problem among Surgeonfishes. <<Ahhh...the best emails to receive, success>> Some background: I have kept a Hippo Tang for several years, and he has always been healthy, active, and eats a lot. I have always fed him frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, Spirulina pellets and krill pellets. However, due to bad LFS advice, he was stuck in a 37gal system for a while, which is way too small for such an active fish. A year later, he started developing HLLE. He had a small pit developing on both sides of his head, behind the eyes. <<Such a shame>> This year, I finally setup a 125g system with a 30g sump, and moved him over. He seems much happier, but the HLLE condition was still there, with no signs of improvement. Granted, it was only a very mild case, since the rest of the head and his body looked absolutely fine, but since this is not normal in wild specimen, I wanted to cure him. Two weeks ago, I started adding sushi Nori to his food. For the first day or two he refused to touch it. But persistence paid off when I shred the Nori in little pieces and mixed it to his favorite frozen mysis/brine shrimp, and he consumed everything with gusto. <<Superb news>> A week later, I saw blue color appearing on one side of the pit behind his left eye. It seems like the HLLE is starting to heal. I wish I could take pictures, but he wouldn't stay still for a portrait :-( <<he he he he.. they never do stay still when you want them too>> It seems HLLE is a diet related condition, but until he is fully healed, I will keep monitoring his progress for the coming weeks and report any more findings. <<It is of my personal opinion, that diet is one of THE main contributors to HLLE, so, I agree>> I thought the Hippo Tang is unique in Surgeonfishes due to it being a planktivore, but I guess having some more greens in his diet wouldn't hurt, and maybe the missing link to the mystery of HLLE. <<I am really really glad you have been able to rectify the HLLE in the tang, such a beautiful fish, yet seen so often in captivity suffering from HLLE, along with the yellow tang, such a shame for them. I do hope that you email here will be a an invaluable read to others who are experiencing the same issue.>> Hope this little piece of information is valuable! Isaac <<Many thanks for sharing your experience with us, and really glad you perceived to achieve a positive outcome. Kind regards, A Nixon>>

Possible HLLE in Pork Puffer, fins also involved 3/18/08 Hello Bob and Crew! <Hello> My VHO lighting crashed about 2 weeks ago. Since then I've been substituting with two smaller strip-lights and 2 lamps. I ordered a new ballast after replacing the bulbs and giving up on tinkering. Anyways, my porcupine puffer has developed what looks like HLLE-The pale forehead, a few pits. He hasn't eaten in 3 days, and he's been swimming away from me and staying towards the bottom, breathing heavily <Not good.> Very unusual for him. Also,  He also has some bits on his fins and tail where it's opaque, with a streak of brown. I am setting up a QT tank, but I can't get a picture that's any help. Can this be from the lack of light? Should I treat with an antibiotic? <Not from lack of light directly, but probably due to lower water quality. What are your water parameters? HLLE is usually environmental and dietary in nature. I would not treat with antibiotics unless you diagnose a bacterial infection. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm > <Chris>

Angel Problem. HLLE On The Way? 3/10/08 In my 6ft tank I have a King Angel that has been with me now for around 9 months, the area around its head and gills has no colour, it's as though the top layer of skin has disappeared. The rest of the fish is ok, and it is accepting food with no problems. In my other 7ft tank I have a Blueface Angel that has been with me around 2 months, this fish has exactly the same problem regarding the colour disappearing around the head area. In both of the tanks I am keeping various other fish and there is no problem with them. I am interested to know if there is some problem with my tanks or the fish I have purchased have some disease. <Alan, sounds to me like HLLE (Head and lateral line erosion). This is mainly due to environmental conditions and nutrition. It can be reversed by maintaining pristine water quality and a good diet. Read FAQ's here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm, and here, http://wetwebmedia.com/foodsppt1.htm> Regards <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Alan

Free tank - north of Philadelphia... and HLLE success, Zebrasoma  -- 03/10/08 Hi Crew, <Alison> I just thought I would send you this. If you feel it is inappropriate please just let me know. I'm moving soon - next week actually. After some very honest thinking I've realised that that best thing for my salt water fish would be to give them to my neighbor since he is a very good and experienced fish person who has similar philosophies. I'm moving from just north of Philadelphia to FL and my Sailfin tang is just too high strung in nature for me to want to risk his well being. Since I will be fishless for a while I thought I'd offer up my hospital tank to someone who may need it. Its a 30 hex that hasn't thankfully been used in two years. The seals may need replacing soon but when last operating it did not leak. They just look worn. Also I would like to offer up a success story with a milder case of Hole in the Head. The Sailfin had it when I bought him. It continued until I drastically changed my husbandry after researching on your site. Since my main tank is a hex as well I added a deep sand bed, added well cured live rock, and took out the Magnum 350 I had running. I kept my bioload exceptionally low - just the tang, cleaner shrimp, brittle star, a damsel, and originally a pygmy angel (he died I think of old age having come from a tank where he'd been placed as an adult approx 12 yrs prior). I had a power head providing water movement, and an airstone to keep the O2 levels as high as possible. A very low maintenance, simple set up. The tank was dedicated to just the tang even though it was too small for him at just 60 galleons. I thought this was at least better than the 20 long the LFS had him in, and arranged the rock so he had multiple swim patterns. I thought about a second power head but didn't want to add additional vibrations to the tank since he shows great sensitivity to this. I fed him mostly organic Nori from Wegmans and Algae Plus Formula from Olsen Frozen Fish Food in NJ. I choose this brand over others because the ingredients were simple: marine algae, kelp, Spirulina, plankton, clam, krill, gelatin, and mussel. In about 6-9 months later there was no more hole in the head. He still has some marks on his face which I assume to be scars. Otherwise healthy and happy though still a high strung individual. I'll miss him greatly but he's taught me a lot. I know he made it through importation but I can't see putting him through that again since my life is very chaotic right now. If anyone wants the tank please email me at alisongrieco@hotmail.com Thanks, Alison <Thank you for relating your success with the Zebrasoma, HLLE... many will benefit... And I do hope/trust we will see you back in the hobby once you've settled into your new circumstances. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

HLLE on a hippo 03/09/2008 dear WWM crew, thanks to Andrew for all the help he has given me. <<Hello, Andrew here>> I think that my baby hippo tang has HLLE, there is a discolored stripe along his nose from his head to his mouth. I cant tell whether it is a hole or not because he is so active and wont stop swimming. he eats well, I feed frozen mysis in the morning and Spirulina flakes at night. can you tell me what is wrong with my fish and how I can save him. Also should I feed him anything else, today I tried garlic pellets and he loved them. One more thing, do you know how to tell whether it is a boy or a girl. thanks <<This does sound, potentially, like the start of HLLE. My suggestion would be to start treating the foods with vitamins like Vita-Chem...HLLE is usually caused by either a poor diet or poor water quality. Whichever is the failing entity here needs to be changed. Read more on HLLE FAQ's and linked articles http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm>> <<**** Note to RMF ***** I am afraid on the sexing of this, I am unsure, however, I hope Bob Fenner picks this reply up and should hopefully chime in from his experience>> <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>> <Paracanthurus, like other Tangs, cannot be discerned sexually, w/o either seeing them in the act, or taking them apart. RMF>

Chrysurus "patch"... Neuromast destruction, tied to... 01/21/2008 hi I've tried to look for an answer to this weird patches on my Chrysurus Angel but I cant find anything about it. <Is a "form" of HLLE...> I don't know what it is I think it might be going threw <through> a change in face pattern or growth in coloration maybe? <Is being "consumed" by some factor/s... avitaminoses, "poor" water quality, perhaps stray voltage...> But it has looked like this for over 4 months now. The face gets better and then worse and it repeats this. I'm dosing the tank with all the vitamins <Ahh!> I can find, but it doesn't seem to do any good. I'm sending 2 pictures with this any help is greatly appreciated! Morgan <I would consider a carte-blanche approach to improving water chemistry (mud-filtration, a refugium with live macro-algae and DSB, the use of chemical filtrants), improved nutrition (another BIG plug for Spectrum pelleted foods here), and even a read and a check for possible electrical current, installation of at least GFCIs for all elements of 110 volt powered mechanicals here. Do read on WWM re HLLE. Bob Fenner>

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