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FAQs about Lionfish Health/Disease: Nutritional

Related Articles: Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping Lionfishes and their Scorpaeniform Kin Part 1, Part 2, by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner, Dwarf Lionfishes,

Related FAQs: Lionfish Disease 2, Lion Disease 3, Lion Disease 4, Lion Disease 5, Lion Disease 6, Lion Disease 7, Lion Disease 8, Lion Disease 9, Lion Disease 10,
FAQs on: Lionfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Infectious, Parasitic, Social, Trauma, Treatments,
& Lionfishes & their Relatives, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Dwarf Lionfishes, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Feeding

"Feeder" goldfish are probably the single largest source of captive Lionfish mortality. Second are Thiaminase laden foods... e.g. Krill, Shrimp... No beef heart or liver please.
Gut blockage is quite common... from indigestible foods, and just too much feeding, as well as swallowing hard to digest biota and decor.

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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

Lionfish... lockjaw; using WWM        10/13/15
Hello i was told you guys where good my lionfish mouth is stuck open i was wondering how to take care of him
<....? http://wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm

and the linked files above>
all the other fish in the tank are doing
good he was trying to eat some frozen shrimp and the that that happened please help
<... see WWM re frozen shrimp, Lionfish feeding... a poor diet is a simple cause of this issue; though trauma, long-term avitaminoses are implicated at times. Bob Fenner> 

Volitans Lionfish lockjaw, deficiency...      10/6/12
I read one other discussion on the topic of lionfish lockjaw, but was hoping to better understand a few details regarding how to go about treating this unfortunate situation. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR system with the following parameters: salinity:1.02, nitrates:0, .5 ammonia,
<Half a ppm of ammonia? Bad>
temperature:78 F, ph:8.2. I have one Volitans lionfish that has grown from a golf ball size to a cantaloupe size in roughly one year. He is very friendly and has learned to spit water at you to get a silverside. He is unfortunately been on a diet of krill and silversides.
<Not good>
I now realize I made a mistake feeding him the krill as he has developed what seems to be lockjaw (his mouth is open on the right and closed on the left). He will no longer eat and swims toward the food happily but gets frustrated, turns a dark red watches it sink to the bottom. I have decided to give him 7 days (I am currently on day 2) before I attempt to either adjust his jaw (how to begin is beyond me),
<Carefully... not to get stuck/stung, or break the joint>
or consider trying to fit some food into his mouth using a syringe. I just am at a loss as to what to do and would hate to watch him starve as he is such a friendly fish. I would love any creative ideas or a little bit of advice ( part of me says just to let it run it's course and try to find a humane way to euthanize him). Any advice would be very appreciated!
<Hard to fix at this point... due to nutritional deficiency... You could try adding HUFA/vitamin mix to the water... hoping... Sometimes this situation (miraculously) fixes itself. Bob Fenner>

Lion fish cannot swim... Fdg. -- 03/23/10
<Hi there>
Thank you for your awesome service.
I have a lion fish that is not able to swim. I have had him for two years and this started more than a month ago. First he sat on the bottom and did not eat. I thought it was an eating issue, but then I realized it was that he could not swim. Now I drop food right in front of him and every other day he will eat if he cat catch it before it hits the bottom, but clearly something is wrong. His fins look fine, but he just scuttles along the bottom moving 6 inches at the most and he cannot rise up or swim. None of the other fish bother him, but if he does not get his food they do. His tank mates are a maroon clown, a Naso tang, a Sailfin tang, a bicolor angel, a lunar wrasse and a snowflake eel. It is a 180 gallon tank so they are not crowded, the water tests perfectly, there is good oxygen and salt and everyone else is fine. This tank has been running for more than ten years. It is a live rock system with a sump that contains a filter sock. I run a protein skimmer and two heaters. I rotate three units of Chemipure and one unit of Polyfilter and do large water changes (50 gallons) once a month.
<... Mmm>
I can probably keep him alive and eating but I would like to heal him.
Any clue as to what could be amiss? It looks like a balance/swimming problem but I cannot find anything written about this in lionfish.
Thank you.
<... These feeding strikes are more rule than exception w/ Pteroines in captivity... Usually traceable to either poor long-term feeding practices (avitaminoses, blockages from "feeder" use, other limited diet...), water quality issues, sometimes, though less frequently psychological issues. As you only list summat substantively re the last, I'll refer you to reading:
and the linked file above in the series. Pay particular attention to what others relate re nutrition/feeding/food choices. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish with hole in lower jaw... nutr. deficiency   1/29/09 I am in need of some help with my Dwarf Lionfish. I have a 210 gallon system. I have had the Lionfish for approximately 8 months. When I first got him the only thing I could get him to eat were ghost shrimp. I eventually got him to eat thawed krill. <These are insufficient nutritionally> He has been growing & doing great until....about a month ago he completely quit eating. <Bingo> I have always fed him his food from a small net. As soon as I would put the net in the tank he was right there ready to pounce. Now....nothing. He swims away from the net as if it is annoying him. I kept trying everyday, unsuccessfully, to feed him & then noticed last week that he has a hole in his lower jaw! I can see right through it & it is about the circumference of a pencil. The skin around the hole looked normal until today. It now has small dark red spots around the edge of the hole. Kind of looks like when we scratch our skin & it gets little spots of blood. I went and got some ghost shrimp today. At first he seemed annoyed. A couple ghost shrimp got away then he appeared to go after one. I couldn't tell if he got it or not since I was standing on a step stool, looking at his reflection in the glass. My tank is a custom build into the wall between my kitchen & living room so you can see through it. It is only accessible from the kitchen side & he likes to hang out on the other side. I have searched & can't find any info on what might be wrong with him. Is it possible he tore the skin on the live rock? <Mmm, yes... but the lack of color, flesh on the head is telling...> Or does it sound like disease? <Yes... a nutritional deficiency> I am pretty ignorant when it comes to knowing my about my system. We started it up 8/2007. All maintenance is done by LFS. I am slowly learning as we go. A couple weeks ago my nitrates went crazy (80+) <This also...> we discovered that all of the algae in the refuge was turned to mush! But before that everything was fine. We have cured that problem with water changes & the new algae is thriving. But I am still very concerned about my lionfish. Any help is greatly appreciated! Leigh W. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. This fish is missing vital (necessary) nutrients... is suffering from a long lack of same. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish gone berserk!   8/1/08 Hi Crew, I suspect its too late to save my poor fish, but I'd like your advice. Tonight I noticed my Volitans Lionfish swimming violently in circles, flying out of the water (there's a top on the tank so he didn't get far) until he finally ran out of steam, jammed himself in the rocks and lay upside down. <Yeeikes!> At first I thought he'd declared war on the coral beauty, but he lay there for a while, righted himself and then a few minutes later, started the process all over again, and again, and again. There is some surface abrasions on his left side (from scraping across the rocks I think) but they are very shallow-- no meat is showing. There's no sign of ick or other diseases, no discoloration. His fins are full and normal, eyes clear. Other than breathing a bit fast and his berserk behavior, nothing at all appears wrong except that he's obviously getting weaker and has started to struggle near the surface. He did refuse food two days ago when I went to feed him, which I thought odd because he's normally a veracious eater. All other fish in the tank are understandably hiding (I would too if something with venomous fins was careening around my home like a cat with it's tail on fire), but otherwise they appear healthy and normal. Tank specs: FOWLR ph: 7.8, <A bit low> Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates: 0 Salt 1.023. Temp: 80-82 90 gallon overflow with a 40 gallon sump. Turboflotor skimmer, and powerheads to facilitate vigorous water circulation. About 150 # life rock and another 150 of coral sand. Co-inhabitants include: 1 Blue Tang 1 coral beauty 1 snowflake moray 1 ocellaris clown (in the sump, so the lionfish won't eat him!) 1 green brittle star (yes, the dreaded "green death", but I give him a chunk of food weekly and he minds his manners) <A 'chunk' of what?> 2 chocolate chip stars 2 pencil urchins assorted crabs and snails. The tank has been running for almost a year as is (upgraded from an established 55 gallon tank that was about 4 years old). Other than a troublesome maroon clown I isolated briefly in the sump about three months ago, I've made no additions to the tank. The listed fish and critters, including the Lionfish, have been together for at least 3 years. The last water change was about two weeks ago. I haven't changed any of the set up except for regular maintenance (water changes, cleaning the glass, etc) in many months. His diet consists of: Formula 1, Formula 2, shrimp, squid, mussels, scallops and seaweed he steals from the tang. All are commercial preparations for fish or raw seafood intended for human consumption. He and the tang occasionally face off for dictatorship of the tank but its never progressed to violence and the surface abrasions on his side do not appear deep enough for the tang to have inflicted them (she got me once with her switch-blade, so I know. Ouch.). <Yes... very!> Is it possible that he swallowed a hermit crab shell or the pea-size gravel and it has become impacted? <Yes> He's never been overly finicky about what he scarfs down, although his stomach appears normal, not bloated or concave. Also, the temperature in the tank fluctuates from 80 at night to 82 during the day when the lights are on and has been doing so all summer. Might this cause problems? <Mmm, no, not likely... and the rest of your livestock you report as fine...> I know it can/does with corals, but I always figured the chocolate chip stars would curl up their toes long before any of the fish were effected. I hate loosing a fish to disease, misfortune or my own stupidity, but worse I find are the mysterious deaths. Any suggests on how I might save this fish, or at least avoid a repeat. Thanks so much for your help. I consult your website all the time and would be entirely lost without it. Thanks, BC. <There is indeed something mysterious at play here... like you say, perhaps something lodged in this fish's GI tract... Perhaps a form of "madness"... the tank is perhaps too crowded psycho- and physio-logically... I would try increasing aeration, and try to be patient... If you had another system that's empty, I might move this Lion there... for a few reasons... including reducing it damaging itself, and avoiding pollution should it die suddenly. Bob Fenner>
Attention Bob Fenner: Re: Lionfish gone berserk!  8/03/08
Hi Bob, Thank you for the email. For some reason it didn't get routed to my email account until Sunday.... <Dang computers!> In any case, by this morning the lion fish had broken and shredded most of his fins, and the currents in the tank were blowing him around. He lay upside down, hardly breathing, except when he noticed me, he'd sort of struggle pathetically in my direction. I just couldn't stand to see him suffer like that anymore. After much hand wringing I pulled him out this afternoon (in a large Tupper ware container) and put him in the freezer for a "humane" death. He didn't even fight for a second when I captured him (I've captured him with this method before and lord did he throw a tantrum). I suspect he would have been dead by tonight, and as you said, I didn't want him to die while I was out and pollute the tank, nor to suffer for so long. That and no other fish in the tank would feed while he was there. <I would have done the same> I did consider isolating him in a quarantine tank (an unused trash can) but I was understandably leery of trying to catch him when he was going nuts. Later, when he was so weak, I feared placing him in a totally black container (because obviously I would have had to put the lid on) would have stressed him out a good deal more than he already was...? <Likely too far gone> There never was any sign of infection. And he always spun around on his left side, never his right, so I suspect it was something he swallowed. Thanks for your suggestions. It's at least reassuring to know it probably wasn't anything stupid I did. Thanks, BC. <If it will grant you solace, I would grossly dissect this fish (after defrosting...) to see if indeed something was stuck in it digestive tract> FYI: the brittle star gets a chunk of whatever I'm feeding everyone else: shrimp, mussel, squid, or formula 1 & 11. <Ahh!> As far as the Ph being at 7.8. I know its a bit low, but I've never been able to get it higher. I've tried baking soda as your site suggests but the crusty residue it left in the water aging tanks actually killed the circulation pump, and even then, it hardly effected the PH--and I put in a ton. <And baking soda by itself (sodium bicarbonate) won't raise the pH past this point... requires a source of carbonate. Do see WWM re pH, alkalinity. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish... hlth., nutr.    9/4/07 Hi guys! It has been a while since I last talked with you, but you have always given me good advice, and I haven't been able to find exactly the same problem on the Web site. I have a Volitans lion (Venus) that we have had for 2 years; she is about 8 inches long. She took well to hand feeding, and will eat almost anything we give her. We give her silver sides about one time per week, and the rest of the time we feed her either frozen or freeze dried shrimp. <Too much fat in these foods... and nutrient deficient...> A couple of times she has taken an entire cube of frozen blood worms while we were trying to feed the other fish, but this has not happened in over 6 months. She shares a 220 gallon tank with a Rectangulatus trigger, a saddle puffer, a lemon peel angel, a scopas tang, and a flame hawk. About a week ago the lion stopped eating with no warning, and she has been listing to her right side. Her coloring is normal, and her size has not changed, nor does her breathing seem rapid. She seems to float to the top of the tank, and floats there either on her back or on her side. She has no interest in food, and she seems that she can only swim with her head pointed down; she doesn't seem able to swim towards the top of the tank facing upward, she just sort of floats there. We did a 1/4 water change, and tested the water, and all levels are normal. All of the other fish have been behaving normally. I am wondering if this is possibly a problem with her swim bladder? <Caused by?> She has never shown behavior like this before, and there have been no additions at all to the tank (fish or rock) in about a year. She does occasionally try to swim down and sit there, but she ends up floating back up to the top, and is usually on her side, and if I open the lid part of her pectoral fin is actually out of the water between the water level and the lid. She floats with her right side down. I am not sure how old she was when we purchased her, but she was only about 3 or 4 inches long at the time. Please help!!! (if you can). I don't want to lose her, but I really have no idea what to do for her, and it really seems like it is a struggle for her to even try to swim downwards. We have not seen her really open her mouth at all in the last week...at first I thought possibly lockjaw, but I don't think that explains the strange floating behavior. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time in advance, and thanks to all of you who counsel our fellow aquarists. Your site is truly wonderful, and it's so great to have a place to go for advice and information. Sincerely, Jennifer and Steve <I do hope your Lion spontaneously gets better... with just time going by. It might have swallowed something that is decomposing, producing an air pocket inside of it... If it does resume normal orientation and feeding, I would take to broadening the food menu... and soaking some of these foods in a vitamin, HUFA mix (like Selcon). Otherwise, there is not much that can be "done" here other than wait. Bob Fenner>

Sick Lionfish... Can you help?? Hi.<Hi! Mike D here> you were the only link I could find on your website to get help with my   fish. My lionfish hasn't eaten in over 6 weeks. before that he ate freeze dried  shrimp everyday.<This looks like the probable first trouble spot to me. A varied diet is always recommended and a single food diet is often a precursor to a deficiency of one sort or another.> For a while he had this red bump type thing on his head. now it  turned to white spot.<this is obviously not good, but may or may not have any bearing to anything.> he's the only fish I have in a 55 gal. tank.<I'm assuming that you're talking about a P. volitans lionfish, usually THE one referred to, so it's size and age may have some bearing on it as well.> I've tried  feeding him all kinds of stuff but he just won't eat it. he just sits at the  bottom. when I try to but it right in front of him, he swims away. what should I  do??<My suggestion is to try introducing some live mollies to the tank and NEVER feed goldfish under any conditions, as they are suspected of doing liver damage, which is fatal in fish, just as it is in humans. The live food should trigger a feeding response if anything will, and the advantage with mollies is that they will survive indefinitely in the marine tank, meaning you need not worry about them being eaten immediately. Other than that, check to make sure that the water parameters are OK (Lionfish ARE sensitive to long term high nitrate damage, despite what many books indicate), vary his diet and keep your fingers crossed. As dumb as it sounds, some fish seem to seriously suffer from boredom and letting a hunter hunt has been know to help on occasion> thanks, Ashley    

Lionfish deaths resultant from goldfish feeding  Bob,  <Adam>  Two quick things. Some people in my club were talking today about the dangers of feeding goldfish to lionfish because it blocks the digestive tract. Well, I searched WWM and found lots of info on the goldfish issue, but not the info I've heard you say before about what percent of lionfish die from this and the dangers to the lion. Can you give me a good link to that? Thanks  <Don't have solid data, but I would "guess" a good percentage, perhaps 30-40 die directly or not so (fatty degeneration internally) from this practice... next in preponderance as a source of mortality, and important is "poor water quality" from this practice and being in too small volume, poor maintenance...>  Also, we would still love to have you here in SLC this year. If a fall trip would work for you, that would be great. I plan to stay in touch during these summer months, and I'll see you at IMAC.  <Will see you there, and we'll chat. Am pretty much done for 04... there are many good friends/associates here who might be willing to come out and give pitches. Would you be interested in having another of the WWM Crew make a presentation? Bob Fenner>  Thanks, Adam

- Lionfish Coloration -  Hi There!  I am returning to ask you another question about my lionfish. It is a dwarf zebra and is about 5-6 inches and I have noticed lately that he sometimes sits on the substrate and flares his gills and turns a bright red color which usually only lasts a few minutes and then he returns to his normal coloring. I am trying to get him off of feeder goldfish (the fish store I bought him from had him for about 5 weeks and only fed him feeder goldfish and I have had him for about 3 weeks now am having a really hard time getting him to accept krill or silversides) and he hasn't eaten in 4 days. Could this be part of the problem? <I doubt that.> I've tested my water and all is fine there. He is the sole occupant of a long 90 gallon tank. Could it be that he is already too big to be weaned and is the redness just a show of anger because he's hungry? <It could be that part of the problem in getting your fish to accept non-live foods is its age, but I don't think the coloration has anything to do with this... even so, it's really difficult to know the true motivations of fish. Many fish can change their coloration to an extent and many do this as often as seems necessary. Have heard stories of clown triggers that are pale until their owners arrive to take a look... I'd be more concerned about the non-eating than the coloration at this point. Do try - if you haven't already - to offer those krill on the end of a skewer or feeding stick... waggle it around like a bit of live food and see if that helps.>  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated....Thanks so much....Lana.  <Cheers, J -- >

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More 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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