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FAQs about Marine Angelfish Environmental Disease

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Water param.s or disease. SW Angel discoloration cause/s     1/28/14
Hi Crew,
I have had a stable marine set up for a couple of years and have several delicate fish Regal, Majestic, Blueface Angels. I recently added a juvenile Emperor and usually get away with no problems by freshwater dipping new specimen in pH adjusted water, a QT would be ideal but like I say I don't generally have problems. The Emperor started eating but has now turned blotchy after 4 days in the tank and what worries me is the Majestic has also turned blotchy today.
<Could be "simply stress", from the new social dynamic, Imperator addn.>

 I ran a pH test and all seems ok at 8.2, alk slightly high at 16
<This is more than slightly. I'd dilute by changing a good deal of water out>

having added too much Seachem Reef Buffer but it has been like this for three months and all good with no water changes.
<... not wise>
I have had copper in the systems for about a month which cured a dose of Whitespot.. Blueface, Regal Angel, Regal Tang and two Ocellaris clownfish all seem fine.
<... copper will def. bring about blotchiness (and more)>
Do you think it is water quality related or a disease and from my research it does not appear to match any disease as the fish are still eating, have clear eyes and breathing normally.
<Could easily be "water quality related" (or the social aspect mentioned).
Again: I would CHANGE WATER>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner> 
Re: Water param.s or disease. SW Angel hlth. f'    1/29/14

Hi Bob,
Sadly I woke up this morning to find all my fish very pale, grey and breathing fast. The Regal Angel was lying on a rock almost dead. I did a pH test and it had dropped to 7.8 I think perhaps it dropped quickly, or perhaps as it was early in the morning as I have tested before some time ago before changing water and it was 7.8 and the fish were much better than
this. Alk was still 16 so I am surprised the pH dropped? I thought that was impossible. So I went 1 km to the Indian Ocean where Moorish Idols are, so the water should be good and starting collecting water. I then drained the tank 80% (not before I had new water to avoid more stress over time and changed the water. Amazingly the Regal Angel made it, he is only just over 1 inch long, eats anything and is very bold coming to the front of the tank when I view the tank and all the fish seem much more active and better colours. I have never been so lucky in rescuing a fish. The only fish that seems not to be recovering so well is the Majestic, strange as the Blueface is 90% better. What is also strange is the Regal Tang seemed ok throughout the whole episode. Bob I saw your testimony on Chemipure Elite, how often do you think water changes need to be done using this product once the dosage is correct for the bioload.
<A few units per month likely in your case/setting>
Thank you for your time and knowledge Bob I have recommended a friend to your site who has a lot large budget for fish and a larger tank so might stretch you knowledge as he has state of the art equipment unlike myself currently.
Copper removal.   1/29/14

I recently treated for Ich with Cupramine which cured the disease and have now completed an 80% water change.
Do you think this is enough, previously the reading was 0.5ppm or if not what is the best way to extract the remains, Polyfilter, carbon etc.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaq2.htm
and the linked files above. B>
Re: Water param.s or disease. Re: Water param.s or disease. SW Angel hlth. f'    1/29/14     1/31/14

Glad to report the Majestic is fine now.
<Ah good. B> 

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.ht m> Regards <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Alan

Koran Angelfish melting like the wicked-witch 1/13/07 Hello: <Hi Beth, Graham T. with you tonight> I have about a 2.5 years old Koran Angelfish that over the past year has slowly been losing it's color and fins. It has lost most of its fins but is still able to swim around and eats well. <Sad story so far...> I have had the water checked and is fine. <Mmmm... fine. I read that a lot here on WWM. Usually closely followed by, "Fine is a relative term. Can you be more specific?" You need to include some numbers here, and invest in some kits for more accurate/frequent testing.> It is a 55 gallon tank with only a Clownfish in with it. What could be causing this and is it treatable? Attached is a picture. <Oh my GOD! That poor fish... what a shame. A whole year he has been rotting away like that? Let me start with what I see in the background, and speculate with what I don't see. Plastic plants and the large shell are actually poor choices for decor in a mini-reef. (Big shells are known to cause more problems than their attractiveness is worth.) Was this setup based on a freshwater-to-saltwater conversion? If so, you may not know that there are many freshwater substrates and decorations that are totally unsuitable for marine use, due to saltwater's corrosive nature. To maintain a successful marine aquarium, you need to have some basic test-kits to allow for frequent and reliable testing of water quality, mainly ammonia, nitrite, nitrate Ph and specific gravity. Many are discouraged from the hobby by the impression that you need a doctorate in chemistry to achieve this success. While the degree certainly gives you a clean grasp of the fundamentals (and more) of what's going on in you tank, the basics are all you need to know. Remember where these animals come from: clear pure waters. Please reply with any specifics you are able to provide about your system including filtration, skimming, presence/amount of liverock/live sand, frequency and composition of water changes, and ANY test results you have, including but not limited to salinity (specific gravity), ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and Ph for starters. I want you to get the fastest turn-around on your replies from WWM, so I grabbed this email as soon as I saw it. *BUT* I am not the best qualified crewer to answer questions about treatment of pathogens, so I may hand this off on it's return if I suspect something other than environmental by your reply. I apologize for my shocked response to your poor angel, but it seems that a year of this wasting away is just bit long and, frankly, awful. -Graham T.>

Re: Koran Angelfish melting like the wicked-witch follow-up 1/13/07 Thank you for responding, I completely agree. <Good, I didn't want to offend anyone, but that is just too far!> The angelfish actually belongs to my younger brother who really has no idea about saltwater fish. My dad has another saltwater tank that does fine and he kind of just lets my brother go on his own. <Hmmm... not very fond of that obvious failure in guidance.> I have been bothering them to do something for months but neither of them will do anything. I was over there yesterday and saw how very awful it had gotten and decided to get on line and find something out. I will try and get answers from him on the water, but as bad as this sounds, do you think it may be too late for this one? <Well, too late how? The fish can still swim and get around after healing, and some color may actually return... but this depends on whether the loss of... everything is due to plain old toxic water or a pathogen. Obviously, the fish is never going to look like the prototype. Let's just see where we can get with water conditions and maintenance information. I want to know more.> Is it more humane to, I don't know if you would say euthanize? I can't even believe it can swim anymore. <It is hard to believe, but a hungry fish has a fighting chance! -Graham T.> Thanks, Beth

Re: Koran Angelfish melting like the wicked-witch follow-up 1/13/07 Below are the water numbers: <Hi Beth, G.T. again...> Nitrates: +100 <There's a big problem there. BIG> Nitrites: 0.1 or below <Any measurable nitrite is bad.> Salinity: 30 Specific Gravity: 1.022 I'm not sure about the Ph Filtration System is a side filter without a ground filter. <Not sure what you mean here, but I'm guessing you either mean a filter that hangs on the back (or side in this case) or just a powerhead. Umm, how about this: take some pictures of the tank from all sides with your camera set to 640x480 or 1024x768, then zip them and send back.> My dad does have the specific gravity test and nitrite test. I took the water to our local fish store and I was talking to the owner. He didn't see a picture but as I was explaining it to him he said it was normal aging process. I found it kind of disturbing that a supposedly reputable fish store would kind of downplay the problem saying it is the aging process and that it happens the fish just doesn't look that attractive. <Well, that angel is still (partially) colored with it's juvenile patterns. If you do a Google-search on the Koran angel, you will see that the adult is very different, not to mention larger! This place is just enabling this awful treatment. For shame!> I on the other hand think it's awful the way this fish looks and think it would be painful. I've made it my mission to try and salvage what I can. I took out the shells for starters. Anymore help would be appreciated! <If you can't take more pix then describe the system in detail.> Thanks. <You're welcome, and we at WWM really to applaud your effort to bring some peace to this fish! -Graham T.>

Coral Beauty HLLE? 7/1/06 Hi, question for you. <Hello John> I currently have a mid size coral beauty in my quarantine system. I purchase him 16 days ago from a LFS. While in the QT he has developed a small patch (approx the size of a match head) on his L side near his lateral line. The area appears to be pale in nature and irregularly circular. At first I thought he may have just bumped against something in the tank but now watching it over the past 15 days. It appears to have grown ever so slightly. Also yesterday I noticed a very tiny pale patch on the R side of his head. Is this the beginning of HLLE? <Possibly.> I feed sparsely (given that he is in a QT) brine shrimp and Omega sea veggie flakes once a day each. <A poor diet such as this can certainly aid in further development of HLLE, if that is indeed what it is.> The QT is a 15 gal long w/AquaClear 200 filter and carbon pouch. Airstone w/pump, heater, small powerhead and PVC piping. 1 gal water is changed daily. If this is HLLE should I attempt to treat it before placing him in my main aquarium or place move him in after he finishes out his QT time figuring the better diet and water quality available in my larger system will fix him. <You've just answered your own question here. Better vitamin (Selcon, Vita-Chem) enriched diet and excellent water quality are the main factors in reversing HLLE. There is no medication, in my opinion, that will effectively reverse this. Do read FAQ's on this also. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm> My main system is a 65 gal w/20gal sump, live rock. Thanks for your comments, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> John

Losing angelfish only - 06/07/06 Hi Bob and Crew, <O & R> Thanks again for all the help you and the crew provide. Much appreciated! I've e-mailed before and you guys and gals were very helpful. I always try to find the answers to my problems first, before I take up your time. This time I've had a little trouble so thought I would drop a line. My problem has been with keeping queen and French angels. Both juvenile and adults. I have a 135g <Not large enough...> with powder blue tang, 2 perculas, black cap, bi color blenny, and mandarin goby. Have 150lbs live rock, Dual Bak Pak skimmer, and emperor 400. Aquarium is about 1 year running. Water parameters have always been excellent. All at 0. PH 8.2. Have 30g quarantine tank in place and use it wisely. I have not had any problems with my fish except for 2 queen angels and 2 French angels. Which I've read are very hardy and disease resistant. <Generally so> None of them have died right away, seems to be a couple of months down the road. No signs of disease other than minor lymphocytes here and there. <This is telling... a large stress component> One day they start breathing heavy or labored and then die a day or so later. I've read in your book about size range for each and all of them would be what you would call acceptable range. 4-5 inches. <In this small sized system, better to start with even smaller specimens... down to 2-3 overall inches> I do have corals in my tank as well and don't know if these are possibilities. <Are as well... material coming off/from these could be malaffecting these fishes> I recently pulled my bubble tip and Sebae anemones out thinking my angels may have come into contact with them and died from that. <A possibility> Is that a possibility that even a larger angel can die from an anemone sting. <Yes> Corals in my tank currently are torch coral (which my clowns hosted after losing their bubble tip), flowerpot, branching hammer, and frogspawn. Could any of these been the cause or am I missing something. <Not able to tell from here/this> All my other fish have not shown any signs of problems to date. After the fourth or fifth queen and French I'm quite frustrated. I feed them Nori seaweed red and green, formula one, angel food containing sponge (which they didn't take to very well) and Mysis. A good variety I thought. Any advice would be much welcomed. Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule. Sincerely, Royce <I would look to a smaller Pacific, Indian Ocean Pomacanthid species here. Wait till you have a tropical West Atlantic biotopic effort to try one of these Caribbean angels. Bob Fenner>

Emperor angel problem 2/23/06 Dear Bob and colleagues Please help I have a 100 gallon home display tank and a 200 gallon sump). There has been a sudden chain of events causing an issue with my tanks members, especially the 3 year old emperor angel. My water parameters are as follows;pH8.2 , ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20ppm ,sg 1026 and temperature 24.7 centigrade. These were taken this morning before tank lights were switched on. Other hardware includes Deltec AP850 skimmer, phosphate (ROWAphos) fluidized filter and wet/dry filter (maybe why I cant get lower nitrates!) <Likely, yes> Following an Ich outbreak on my C. Lunula, I treated the system with Myaxin solution for 5 days, but still lost him unfortunately. It has resulted in the emperor showing very distressed symptoms (rapid gill movements, loss of appetite and hiding away but no obvious bodily Ich signs). During this period I lost an Anthias with no obvious causes but the remaining tank members seem fine (comprising 2 Hawkfish, purple tang, blue tang, green Chromis and 3 convict blennies). The soft corals showed minor irritation but seem fine now. When I switched the UV sterilizer(30Watt) back on, did this result in any toxic shock chemicals? <Not likely> I have now tried a 30% water change and the addition of carbon filtration to try and improve matters but I am still most concerned about my emperor. Are there any further suggestions you might offer? Best regards Dave K from the UK <Not from the information provided. Have you read on WWM re this species? Please do so: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/pomacanthus/imperator.htm And the linked files above. Hopefully something will "pop up" here re your situation. Bob Fenner> "The soft corals showed minor irritation but seem fine now. Are there any further suggestions you might offer? Best regards Dave K from the UK" <Actually... on a moments reflection, the problem is likely the negative reaction you list re the soft corals... These are very likely poisoning your system, consequent from the Myxacin... I would add a good deal of activated carbon to your filter flow path, and execute a series of 10-20% water changes every few days to dilute their effects. BobF>

Acclimation, Angel 9/12/05 Hi <Hello> I am new to WWM but have been passively reading many many of your articles to become better educated in the marine area. <Good idea> I recently purchased a juvenile emperor angel and placed him in a quarantine tank for observation before placing him in with my main tank. I gave him a 2 minute fresh water (straight RO water at 78 F) bath and then placed him in the quarantine tank. This is a 10 gal. tank with a 45 degree 4" PVC elbow in it for refuge. It is again RO water at 78 F medicated with copper,<copper should only be used when necessary. It's adding undue stress to the fish.> and aerated with a small stone and filtered through carbon. The first night and next morning he (she?) looked fabulous. The fish ate a small amount of Formula 2 and one Mysis shrimp that I offered. The fish swam around curiously and seemed just fine. The next morning I found him at the bottom not swimming around anymore. I decided to check the salt content (don't get too mad here) and discovered I had messed up mixing when I set of the tank (doh!). It was at 1.032 SG! I slowly (over 4 hours) diluted it back down to 1.023 without replacing the copper.<Four hours is too short a time to drop the SG that much.> He must have found the second serving of Formula 2 as it was gone from the tank floor by the end of the day. It has been 2 days since and the fish is still on the bottom but now his nose is downward and he seems to be breathing more rapidly. I am concerned I somehow injured him and fear I will lose him. Any thoughts? <Filter the QT with a good grade carbon or Chemi-Pure to remove the copper. I'd do at least a 30% water change with water of the SAME salinity and 24 hours later see if there is any improvement. If he is eating, you may want to add vitamins to his food, something such as Selcon. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Contrite fish-keeper, Mark
Re: New Emperor Angel acclimating trouble - need help 9/13/05
Thank you so much for the super-quick reply! <You're welcome> I followed your instructions and so far he is still alive a day later. He is still on his side most of the time but will move around from time to time and his color still looks great. I guess all I need to do now is wait to see if he recovers. Just a follow up question to my terrible start. Do you think either the copper dosing and/or the total screw up of the salt could have damaged this fish in a way that would not kill him but leave him this way long term? <The angel more than likely went into shock from too many changes at once. Do not use lighting on his tank. It will make him feel a little more relaxed.> I know I will find out eventually but I feel so bad to see him this way knowing that I took a healthy fish and caused this situation. <It's a good idea to research a fish before you buy and know it's requirements. James (Salty Dog)> Mark

Holacanthus passer losing color 9/2/05 Hello Crew and thanks for all your help in advance. <Welcome> I have a 4 1/2 inch angel for a year now and he has been in excellent condition until the last month. He is now losing color around his mouth, eyes and some small spots up on his head. The best way to describe it is the yellow color around his mouth is becoming translucent and the spots up on his head are yellow where his color was previously dark. <I used to collect this species... know what you're referring to> The areas of change don't appear to be raised or any different than the normal areas of his body and none of his tankmates are effected. Also, all the fish are eating well and acting fine - including the angel. I feed veggie flakes, Spirulina, Mysis, and marine cuisine and use Selcon as a supplement. The local fish store believes it is dietary and I have started butterfly formula and a fresh mussel 1 time per week. <Good idea> I don't see how a dietary deficiency would take 11 months to manifest and now progress in a fairly rapid manner. <Does happen... "something/s" run out> Any suggestions or requests for more information (just to add some information: water parameters are salinity 1.024, PH 7.3, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates under 10)? Regards, Greg <Mmm, my "second category" guess here would be "water quality" as cause... Having "mud" in your filter, a refugium, a DSB, live macro-algae... would all help. Do you have another system to move this specimen to that has any of these? Could you add a live sump with them? I would. Bob Fenner>

- The Emperor has no Space - Hi Guys, <Good evening, JasonC here...> I have received good advice from the crew in the past and hope maybe you can help me with my current problem. I have an Imperator Angel 6" adult in a 90 gallon tank, I know this is small for this fish, but house is too small for bigger tank, I also have a 125 gallon community tank. <This fish should really be in the 125...> My problem is that the Imperator has large faded white spots all over it's body, I treated with Copper Safe and after 4 days the spots went away, I kept the copper in the 10 days as suggested then started to pull it out with copper remover, poly filter and water changes, within 2 days the spots started to reappear and are most noticeable in the morning and less at night. I then suspected that maybe it is a vitamin deficiency so I give the fish Nori algae every day and at first it seemed to work, the spots went away, I really thought I solved the problem, but within 2 days the spots came back. My nitrates are not terrible for a fish only tank 20ppm, I don't know what to do next, any advice would be appreciated. <The white spots are typically caused by water quality issues, but can also be a general indicator of mood, as in the fish is not happy in it's current surrounds. These fish get much larger that this and are used to much more room to roam. I would look carefully into collateral damage from the copper treatment, as it typically stalls out biological filtration. Do a couple of decent-sized [25%] water changes and go from there.> Thanks Fred <Cheers, J -- >

- Baked Emperor - Gentleman, <Good morning, JasonC here.> I have an Emperor Angel.  He has been fat and happy since the day I bought him.  Has just started to turn colors and has stopped eating and is quite lethargic.  I don't know what is wrong.  Water parameters are good although the temp gets to around 88 this time of year due to the heat and humidity.  Any suggestions?? <Yeah, do something about that temperature, it is much too high.> tks John Cape Cod <Cheers, J -- >

Blue Angel Fungal Infection? Hello there. <Buona sera. Dr. Anthony in your service> My wife and I just (6 days ago) obtained a 5" adult-colored Holacanthus bermudensis. It had been at our LFS for about a week and a half. It was sold to us as a Holacanthus ciliaris, but we have come to the conclusion that it is a true blue angelfish and not a hybrid between the two (based on rigorous research due to the price difference between the queen and the blue, which we are still debating with our LFS, but a completely different story). Anyway, within the last 2 days, it has developed white patches on its left fin and, today, the left flank. They look like baking soda or flour when it is wet and clumpy, ranging in size from salt granule to dime sized. They aren't in any particular shape, rather just blotches. This fish shares a 75 gallon tank with one 3" Odonus niger, one 3.5" Rhinecanthus aculeatus, and one 4" Coris gaimard. It is a fish only tank with 20 lbs. Live rock, a SeaClone skimmer, and 2 large Penguin 400 filters. We have had no problems (that we have witnessed) between the triggers and the angel. In fact, we have seen the Huma trigger roll on its side so the angel could clean it. We have tested everything religiously and the results are consistently just right. Is this a fungus or bacteria, or something else?  <Lymphocystis is quite common with these angels. It is viral, non-contagious, non-fatal and non-curable by most measures. It may grow large enough to break off on its own and scarcely bother your Angelfish... or, it may become so irritating that you will need to do minor surgery (take fish out of tank into a clean towel wet with aquarium water (cover eyes to keep still. the fish... not you) and trim the infected fin tissue and scrape the body with a scalpel or razor (then swab with iodine) and return to tank) Not as bad as it sounds> We are in the process of moving the angel to our 20 gal quarantine (the only thing in it is enough crushed coral to barely cover the bottom). Is there any effective treatment of this disease?  <above... and don't bother with the move to quarantine if it is Lymphocystis... more stress> We had added Mela-Fix (basically tea tree oil) to the 75 gal. to see if that would help without disrupting the ecosystem. It did nothing.  <not for this, my friend> We are very worried about our little angel and hope anyone there might be able to help. <I seriously doubt it will be fatal. Do try referencing the disease with a good fish disease book like Handbook of Fish Diseases by Dieter Untergasser (TFH)> Thanks for your time, Chris & Rachel Koenke <my pleasure, Anthony Calfo>

Majestic angel trouble <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> Hi I have a majestic angel which I have had for about 2 weeks. Until today he seemed fine. He swam around a lot and ate good. But, now he's hiding and refuses to eat he barely moves. His eyes are a little cloudy. The only other problem the tank has had was a rusty angel that died a couple of days ago. The water quality as of last night was ammonia .25 ph 8.2 nitrate .10 nitrite 0. <That ammonia is a problem, and probably why the fish's eyes are cloudy.> What do you suggest? <Water changes, *pronto*... Hopefully you keep some pre-mixed stuff ready to go for emergencies like this. If you don't have any ready, let new stuff mix for about 4 hours (with vigorous circulation via powerhead). And I'd also suggest some Amquel+ (got to have the plus since it's a marine tank!) in the interim. --Ananda> 

Perilous Pomacanthus Angel - 8/17/03 Good afternoon, Mr. Fenner, hope all is well with you. <Anthony Calfo in his stead, with regards in kind> I have a bit of an issue with a 7 1/2" Emperor angel. He/she has been doing very well in an established seven foot 200g predator tank for some time. <grumble> A bit frisky, as the fish immediately dominated the tank upon arrival. Tank mates are a 12" Panther grouper, and a 10" gold stripe puffer. <grumble grumble> Yes sir, I do realize that I am pushing tank capacity. <that's one way to put it... 2.5 feet of fishes in a 2' wide aquarium. Doh! The reduced activity of the grouper and puffer (perhaps) works in your favor. Still... it would be nice to see more tank or less fish> However, I  noticed today that the right gill plate has ceased to move. <a conspicuous sign of gill parasites, indeed> Subsequently, the left gill plate is functioning at twice the normal rate. There have been no new arrivals, and no previous disease issues. <understood... but the fishes did not arrive sterile (as in pathogen free). They, like us, carry potentially pathogenic organisms that are suppressed for life, only to be expressed under weakened immunity or duress (like giving up hope for a larger aquarium <G>. Sorry... couldn't resist)> Water quality is spot-on, appetite is voracious, and color is vivid. I am inclined to think the fish is very healthy, no HLLE and nice streamers for the species. <all very good to hear> No one else displaying any erratic behavior, other than darting for cover when the angel cruises the length of the aquarium!  The only change made  was a large water change four days ago with aged water from the same source, of the same salinity, pH, and temp. Water change was approximately 40g, as I needed aged water for a 37g quarantine tank that I just set up. <No worries... and not a large water change either. Good heavens, for a tank of predatory fishes of this size, I should hope that you have been doing 20% water changes like this twice monthly. If not, the accumulated untestables over time are surely a burden on water quality and a stress to the fish. The angel (unsurprisingly) may just be the first one to express suffrage> I first  suspected gill flukes, but is that possible since there are no new arrivals, and the  water change was with r/o home-brew?   <correct my friend... simply carried in small numbers and never expressed. Good immunity> I have seen unexplainable phenomena occur while employed at John Tullock's now defunct Aquatic Specialists, but this is a new one for me. I must say that I feel as though I can trust your opinion, as I have learned more from reading three pages of your writing than I could have learned in three years of actual study. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated, not only by myself, but the specimen in question, too. Devoted, yet stumped, Samantha Madison <no worries, my dear. But do be prepared with a bare-bottomed QT tank and some formalin. Easy on the copper and/or malachite (any metals or organic dyes) in fact as you likely know - angels can be sensitive. FW dips and formalin are your likely cure in QT. Go for the full 4 weeks isolation. Bare minimum would be two weeks after the last expression of a symptom. Medication in the display is not recommended or likely to be successful. Best of luck. Anthony>
Perilous Pomacanthus II - 8/17/03
Good evening Mr. Calfo, and many thanks for your timely response. <cheers, my friend> I am sorry if I mislead you, my normal routine is  20g water change each week, every week. <no worries... sounds good :)> My worry was that the 40g change may have caused undue stress thus leading to a lowered immunity. <no worries here either. Its really not that big of a water change. Only a problem is conducted improperly (errant temp, salinity, etc)> The Emperor now reigns supreme inside the confines of a bare bottom 55g (biggest I have, sadly) QT, vacuum at the ready. QT preceded by formalin dip, and six hours later, both gills functioning properly, though at a higher rate than I would prefer (about 75 times per minute, as best I can tell). <fantastic to here... very good protocol and response not unusual> I believe that may be the result of the stress of the dip and the move. I agree that copper is NOT for angels, (or anything else except maybe for middle-aged golfers' bracelets!) and I shall continue formalin dips. <ha... very good, and agreed> I am, however, puzzled by the occurrence. Is it possible to "carry" gill flukes, without showing any signs? <yes, indeed... and else wise (for many pathogens) to lie in dormancy/encysted (some for years actually!)> Could the gills be burned by anything other than ammonia? <true... many possibilities, although mostly foreign chemicals and unlikely> I realize the difficulty of diagnosing an unseen animal, with unknown variables, and the high degree of possibility that some people may not be completely honest about the conditions a fish may be facing. I also realize that this species has a range the size of a couple of football fields in the wild, and as an aquarium species is a poor choice. While this IS unfair, I cannot resist the utter beauty of the Emperor, and only hope to provide the best possible accommodations in this environment. <very much understood. I have faith in your passion and competency from the thoroughness of your query, response and replies. And do believe that this is a very simple case of gill flukes... oh, so common.> As for the grouper and the puffer, who needs to go? <tough call... but my vote would go to the messier feeder (greater burden on the bio-load). This would insure you more years in that tank with that magnificent angel for certain> I offer the deepest appreciation for your concern, and your honest wit concerning the inadvertent overcrowding. <heehee... thanks for being a great sport <G> and empathetic keeper> There is a reasonable explanation, but I won't waste your time with the details. Thanks again, Samantha Madison   <no worries... do enjoy and provide the best you can. With kind regards, Anthony>

Queen angel not eating Thought I would let you know what was causing the lack of appetite behavior, apparently my AC was slowly on the outs, when it quit working, I checked the water temp, 87F!  <Doh!> Needless to say after adding ice to bring the tank back below 80, these fish started pigging out again! Thanks for your help <Yowsa.... hopefully the drop in temperature was gradual (2-3 days?). A sudden drop in temp can be worse than the drop of the high temps. Please be very alert for an Ich outbreak in the next week and be prepared with a QT tank if necessary (do not medicate in the main display). Best regards, Anthony>

Sick Queen Angel? Hello how are you today ? <Fine, thank you! Scott F. here today> Sorry to bother you again! <Never a bother, my friend!> But my queen Angel as stopped eating two days ago! (can he stay a lot of time without eating??) and  seems to have cloudy eye and also the eye membrane seems to be damage going out a little bit still but less than before ,also a notice that his eyes are a little bit red ,and he also had like blood behind the lateral fins, but it seems that it is healing now (white covering it) also have white spots on the fins!!! but doesn't look like Ich, he always hiding, but he is breathing normal !!! My nitrate was a little bit high, but I did a water change of about 30% of the tank (125 gallons)  and it is now ok. <Good decisive move!> All the other fish are fine. I wouldn't want this to spread to the other fish. Maybe  environmental disease? <Hard to say from here, but it may be a (secondary) bacterial infection of some sort. It may have been brought on by lapses in water quality, an injury, or some other trauma.> Should I move him out of the tank and use medication? If yes what should I use that is easy to get in almost all fish stores? I don't want to loose it. Thank you in advance and also HAPPY NEW YEAR! And again, thank you for your help! Your web site is  helping me a lot and I am sure a lot of aquarists, also! Continue the great work!!!! <I think it is time to move the fish to another tank for observation and treatment. I'd probably try a broad spectrum antibiotic, such as Maracyn Two in the treatment tank. Please note that antibiotics can interrupt nitrification in aquariums, so be sure to supply mechanical and chemical filtration in the treatment tank. Do keep reading on the wetwebmedia.com site to see if you find descriptions of any disorders that are similar to the one that your fish is experiencing. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

My angel fish is looking dull! Dear Bob <David Dowless standing in this afternoon> I have an Imperator angel I have had for about 5 years.   He is housed in a 100gal. aquarium. Filtered by 3 Eheim canister filters a 15 watt UV.  He has a few other tank mates such as a twin spot  wrasse, <Do you mean the Coris wrasse? This baby gets to be more than 21" long!> 6 fire fish, long nose hawk, Flame angel, Flag fin, 3 butterflies.  In, addition I also have a protein skimmer. <Is it producing a full cup of skimmate daily?> Water parameters are close to 0 ammonia <.1ppm NO2, N03 between20 to 60. <Ammonia and nitrite need to be zero all of the time.> Salinity 1.020, temp 77. This was not always the case, however , I thinned out the population some time ago.  I did this because I had difficulty keeping the water parameters within the range I proffered.  I had blue tangs and a Koran angel that both had bad HLLE.  The Imperator I believe was also developing HLLE so I became extra faithful doing water changes and adding broccoli and spinach to the diet.  This seemed to arrest any HLLE in the Imperator however his color has dulled.  I should mention that in every other way he is fine. <Poor water quality, poor diet, and overcrowding will do this..> I occasionally put carbon in my canister filter some say this contributes to HLLE also, I do not do anything to guard against stray voltage. <HLLE is an environmental disease: inappropriate diet and poor water quality due to overcrowding. Your tank needs to be thinned out even more. I don't know which ones to get rid of because I don't know their sizes or the specific species. Consider getting a copy of Scott Michael's Marine Fishes. It is an excellent pocket guide that would have helped you avoid overcrowding. You can get it online for less than $25>   My fishes diet is extremely varied including frozen as well as dry foods and fresh veggies. <Marine algae growing in the tank would also help> I would welcome any advice you may have. Thank you, Charles Rayburn <You're welcome, Charles. You can research even more on this and many other topics at Wetwebmedia.com...David Dowless>

Question: I wanted to e-mail you to let you know that I have just finished your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and I thought it was fantastic . The way that you use scientific terms and mix it with layman's terms gives someone relatively new to the hobby a feel for what we are really trying to accomplish here . We are not just keeping a "fish tank" we are keeping small eco-systems in are homes . The scientific names reminds you of that fact. Thank you!
I have been following your advice about picking out fish to the letter, leaving questionable ones behind. I just made a rather significant purchase as far as fish are concerned. After about two weeks watching a Pomacanthus Annularis in the local pet shop, I brought it home . As you can imagine it was quite expensive, but it was well worth the wait and expense. Until today that is.
I've noticed that the eyes are starting to cloud over. In your book you go over Popeye briefly, but don't mention cloudiness. I would appreciate any direction you might have regarding this subject or any references you might have that I could look up. I understand that you must get thousands of e-mails , and can't possibly answer them all , but please try to get back to me. I WOULD RATHER SEE THESE FISH STAY IN THE REEFS OF THE WORLD THEN TO SEE THEM DIE IN MY SYSTEM!
Bob's Answer:
Richard, thank you for writing, and your kind words re: my efforts at writing. I share your concern re the Annularis, and will try to help you. First of all let me state that any eye cloudiness is a bad sign, but that esp. with larger fish specimens, it is not uncommon. Especially when netted, they get scratched and this coupled with the stress of being moved and new water, light and even social conditions in the new system can add to the problem...
But generally the cloudiness is not based on an actual infection of any sort and SELF CURES. Now some important questions. How long has the tank been running? Tell us/me about your set-up, filtration esp. What other sorts of organisms do you have (an important clue)? Do you have sufficient decor that the angel can get out of the light? In the meanwhile of waiting to see if the cloudiness has stopped progressing (it may take a few days to weeks to regress completely), please don't add medicines of any sort to the system or even the animal's foods. And for browsers, particularly industry types, do utilize soft nets at the worst, and just your hand and a waiting submersed doubled bag at best to capture these fishes in captivity.

Question: I am having one heck of a time keeping large angels alive. I have a 55gal tank with 2 power heads atop an under-gravel filter. I have had my water tested many times and every time it has came back excellent for everything. All my other fish are doing perfect, and thriving. I have had the same tank and general set-up for the last 5 years and never had a problem until trying my hand at large angels (Rock Beauty, French).
Every time one is introduced, it refuses to eat, but keeps it color, swims up and down in one corner of the tank, and dies about a week later. I have been told my water quality must be bad, BUT if it is so bad, why are the other fish doing so great?
I have been fighting a couple brown algae blooms the last month or so, but I believe that is due to the increased sun light through the nearby window. Anyway, do you have any ideas as to why all my angels are dying?
Bob's Answer:
Gosh, Jeff, could be a bunch of things. For one the Rock Beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) is not a hardy fish at all... but the French is!
Very likely whatever your perception re: the "other" established livestock, your water quality may be way off. There's a tremendous amount of adaptive conditioning to water over a period of time, but new livestock may not be able to "take it".
You mention some algae blooms ... do you have a "dependency" on chemical supplements and treatments for the same? This and/or the algae themselves could well be affecting the living conditions. My real advice? Try some smaller angelfish species. A 55 is too small for the ones you have tried.  

Angelfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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